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Can Brtvtile di Nomina a Maesiro di Schtrma 





\The right 0/ translaiion is raerveii.} 










WORK of this kind must necessarily contain a great deal of mere 
compilation, but considering that so little has been written on the 
subjetft, and that the early books of Fence are so difficult to find 
and really such tiresome reading to anyone who seeks intelligible 
information in their pages, I venture to hope that — however 
sketchy and superficial — this book may prove of some interest to lovers of 
ancient arms as well as to the votaries of the fencing school. 

Some time ago, my friend Captain Alfred Hutton — a well-known 
swordsman, who now, however, seems inclined to ncgleft the sabre and the 
foil for the brush and maulstick — left under my care a magnificent colleAion 
of books treating of the sword and its use, ranging in date from the early 
sixteenth century to the present day. 

Out of these I took sundry notes, at first with a view to future maga- 
zine articles, the idea of which was suggested by a clever but unfortunately 
incomplete «otice on early fencing-masters by the late Mr. Latham — whose 
name is so familiar to all connoisseurs of a good blade — which I discovered 
in a back number of "Time." Very shortly, however, my plan embraced a 
wider scope. In a leisure remarkable for its terseness, accuracy, and compre- 
hensiveness, on the " Forms and History of the Sword," delivered at the 
Royal Institution last year, Mr. Frederick Pollock observed that an account 
of the development of the fencing art would require, not a discourse, but a 
book, and that such a book had not yet been written. 

Within modest limits I fancied I would make a work of this description 
out of my notes, when the announcement of the approaching publication of 
Captain Burton's treatise under the felicitous title of *' The Book of the 
Sword " made me for a time completely abandon the idea. I well knew that 
Captain Burton never undertakes a subJeA without exhausting it, and felt 
sure that the " Book of the Sword " would comprise in itself all that could be 
said on the topic. When the first part of this immense work appeared, 


I was struck however by a passage in the preface which announced the 
authors intention to negleft all questions of " carte " and '* tierce" — notwith- 
standing his authority as a professed maitre d'armes — and to deal with the 
history of the sword itself rather than with that of the many theories con- 
cerning its use. Perceiving from this that there was still room for a small 
work on subjedls interesting to all frequenters of schools of arms, I forthwith 
began to arrange my notes into a coherent shape, in which I now present 
them to the public. 

There is little doubt that the French system of fencing can be traced, 
at its origin, to the ancient Italian swordsmanship ; the modern Italian school 
of course being derived in an uninterrupted manner from the same source. 
Either one or the other is followed by all nations in Europe, at least for 
small-sword or puncfturing play ; the French, however, having undoubtedly 
more followers, although it may well be considered an undecided question, 
from a praftical point of view, i.e, sword, not foil in hand, which of the two 
systems is the more perfeft. 

Sabre, spadroon, or rapier-play — all cut-and-thrust play, in faA — derives 
its leading principles from the more elaborate small-sword fencing, so that a 
consideration of the development of the latter will be sufficient in the main 
for the purpose of this sketch. 

As Spain produced a school which only flourished in the Peninsula, 
being even there all but forgotten now, and as Germany and England 
adopted first the Italian and then the French system, the plan followed in 
analyzing the most celebrated authors and elucidating their leading principles 
has been to pay especial attention to the earlier Italian and the later French 
masters. On the way many points of interest in the history of well-known 
schools, and the manners and habits of devotees of the Noble Science of 
Defence in bygone days, have also been noticed. •* 

The investigation has only been carried to the last years of the eigh- 
teenth century, when most of the old traditions of the fencing art were for 
ever abandoned ; for at that time the fashion of wearing the sword as part of 
a gentleman's dress was universally discarded, and swordsmanship became 
consequently no longer an indispensable accomplishment. At the same period, 
also, the old Compagnie des Maitres en fait d'Armes in Paris was dissolved 
by the Revolution, whilst in Germany at nearly all the universities — the 
great fencing centres of that country — the deadly" Rapier " was relinquished 
in favour of the comparatively harmless ** Schlaeger." 

It is true that some improvement — in the theory at least — has been intro- 
duced into the art of fencing during this century, but the minute points it 
deals with cannot be interesting to the general reader, besides which, much has 
been already written on the subjeft. On the other hand, the literature of the 
early history of fencing and fencing schools seems to be very small. 


The only authorities that I have been able to find, besides some articles 
in cyclopaedias — all very incomplete and more or less copies of each other — 
are thirty-eight pages in Posselier's " Theorie de TEscrime," * devoted to a 
cursory analysis of sixteen authors previous to 1800, and forty pages on the 
same subjeft in Marchionni's introdudlion to his ** Trattato di Scherma," * a 
great part of whose text, however, is a mere translation of Posselier's remarks ; 
also the " Bibliographic de TEscrime " ^ of M, Vigeant, which, without pre- 
tending to deal in any systematic manner with the history of fencing schools, 
is full of most valuable miscellaneous information ; the ^ System der Fecht- 
kunst,"* by Josef Ott, containing a fair amount of useful matter concerning 
fencing schools ; and, lastly, a few notes in Strutt's ** Sports and Pastimes " 
on the justs and tournaments and on the '* Corporation of Maisters of 

I owe to the kindness and courtesy of Baron de Cosson, well known as 
a high authority on the subjeft of ancient arms and armour, and also to that 
i p of Mr. Wareing Faulder, one of the most experienced connoisseurs of such 

objefts, the unhoped-for advantage of having been allowed to arrange for my 
purpose, in a chronological series, the pick of their magnificent coUeftions of 
swords, and to have it photographed for publication. 

* Paris, 1845, 8®. " Fircnzc, 1847, 8®. 

• Paris, 1882, 8^ * Olmutz, 1853, 8^ 


The Modem NetpolitRB School and the old Rapier-pla^ — ObjeA of the work — 
FenciDg in piAuro, in historical novels, on the stage — Periods in the history of the Art : 
the "Sword," the "Rapier," and the " SmaJI Sword " — Modem foil-fencing — Broad 
principlci of the Fencing Art t 

Chapter I. 
The art of individual fighting in the Middle Agea — Tournaments and Schools of 
Fence — Sword-daucers — Sword-men and gladiators — Sword and buckler and " Swash- 
bucklers " — Obnoxious nature of early fencing schools — The chartered Corporation of 
Matsters of Fence under the Tudors— Introduction of Rapier-play in England — National 
prejudice against the new-iangled weapon — G. Silver's " Briefe iketche of three Italian 
Teachers of Offence " — Ancient Teutonic schools of fence — The " Marxbriider," the 
" Fedcrfcchter," and the "Luxbriider" — Ancient fencing schools in Spain — Degrees 
in arm* in the Corporation of Fencing-masters in Spain — Early Italian schools 
of arms 13 

CHAn-Ea II. 
Antonio Manciolino and Achille Marozzo — Classification of cuts — Fanciful guards 
of the early Italian schools — Marozzo's progression — Practice in the fencing room — 
Oath ezafted from new pupils — Camillo Agrippa's system — Numerical guards and Free 
use of the point — Giacomo dl Grassi — Typical system of early Rapier-play 34 

Early sixteenth century fencing schools in France and foreign roasters — " La 
noble science des joucun d'espee " — Henri dc SatnA Dldier — Mania for duelling 
under the Valois — Angelo Viggiani — First definition of the lunge - 53 



Chapter IV. 
Geronimo Sanchez Carranza — The " Father of the Science of Arms in Spain " — 
Don Luis Pacheco de Narvaez — Narvaez's progression — Early fourteenth century 
fencing schools in Germany — The Schwerdt and the Diisack — ^Joachim Meyer — 
Jacob Sutor — German fencing terms ......... 67 


Chapter V. 

" Vinccntio Saviolo his Praflise " — The Rapier alone — Rapier and dagger — George 
Silver's " Paradoze of Defence *' 79 

Chapter VJ. 
Salvator Fabris — ^'Guardia" and ''contrapostura" — Rules for engagement and 
disengagement ............. 96 

Chapter VII. 

The Cavalcabos of Bologna — Nicoletto Giganti — The " botu lunga " — Ridolfo 

Capo Ferro 105 

Chapter VIII. 
Early years of the *'Academie d'Armes" — Italian and Spanish masters of fence 
in France — Girard Thibaust d'Anvers — ^* Academic de TEspce" — The Mysterious 
Circle 120 

Chapter IX. 
Francesco Alfieri — Alessandro Senese — Morsicato Pallavicini — The French 
school of the seventeenth century — Le Perche du Coudray — Charles Besnard — The 
French foil — Philibert de La Tousche — Jean-Baptiste Le Perche .130 

Chapter X. 
Liancour — " Academies d'Armes " in France — The " Confrerie de Saint Michel " 
at Ghent — Labat — ^Girard 142 

Chapter XI. 
Small-sword fencing and the French " salle d'armes " — Guillaume Danet — The 
numerical nomenclature — Danet's theory — La Boissiere — Dissolution of the " Com- 
pagnie des Mattres en fait d'Armes " 158 

Chapter XII. 
The Art of Fence in Spain, in Italy, and in Germany during the eighteenth century 
— ^The Modem Neapolitan School — The Schlaeger 172 

Chapter XIII. 
The Art of Fence in England during the seventeenth century — Gladiators and 
stage fights — Sir William Hope — The " Scots Fencing Master " — The *' Sword-man's 
Vade-Mecum" — The Society of Sword-men in Scotland — "Vindication of the true 
Art of Self Defence " — Gladiator's stage fights — Noted Prize-fighting Fencing-masters — 
The Praflice of the Back Sword-^Single-sticks . . . ... . .187 


Angcio ID Parii and in London — " L'Ecole des Arm« " — Angclo'i fencing-rooms — 
Andrew Lonnergan — Olivier — J. McArthur — Roworih — Praftice of the Broadsword and 
the Spadroon— ModcTD Englbh Fencing Schools . . . . . .212 

Chafte« XV. 
Ancient Swordt compared with modem ones — The four periods, of the modem 
history of the Sword in Europe — Medieval Swords — The " Rapier " — Component 
parts of a complete hilt : Guards and Counter -guards, Quillons, Rings, Pas d'Sae and 
Knuckle-bow — Various forms of blades : the"Ricasso" — Typical Rapier hilts: bar-,she]l- 
and cup-hilts— The "Flambei^"— Transition Rapier— The " Coliehemarde " — The 
Small Sword — Various forms of Broadsword hilts — " Schiavoue," " Claymores," and 
" Mortusuy " Swords — Daggers — " Misericorde," " Main Gauche " and "Stiletto" — 
Foils — Rebated Swords and Fleurets — Wasten and Single-sticks .... 224 

Ihdix 249 


RACTICE Rtpiers, c*i\y MrentecDth century. {HeaJmg) i 

Fig, I. — The Italian Guard, after Roaaroll and Grisetti ... i 

Fig. 1. — SbaMO e pa»ata sotto, from Roiaroll and Grisetti . . z 
Fig. 3. — Knights contending under " the judgment of God." From 
a miniature in the Bibliothequc Royale at BrusteU. Fifteenth 

century 14 

Fig. 4. — The Long Sword and the FlaiJ in the old German Schools . . . 15 

Fig. J. — Sword Dance. From a MS. in the Cotton Library. Ninth century . . i ; 

Fig. 6. — Sword and Buckler. Thirteenth century ....... 16 

Fig. 7. — Sword and Buckler Play. Thirteenth century , 17 
Pig. 8. — Plebii adoleacentis in Anglia habitus. From Caapar Rutz, l$$7. Showing 

the Bword and hand buckler 18 

Fig. 9.— The Long Sword 18 

Fig. lo. — Sword and Buckler in Elizabethan dayt. From Gntsi .... 10 
Fig. II. — Sword and Hand Buckler. Fourteenth century. From a MS. in Royal 

Library of Munich ........... 28 

Fig. 12. — From Meyer, I S70. A Marzbruder initrufling a Pupil .... 30 

Fig. 13. — "Coda lunga e ttretta" and "Cinghiara porta di ferro." — Marozzo . . 38 

Fig. 14. — " Coda lunga e alta," and " Porta di ferro stretta overo larga." — Marozzo . 39 

Fig. 15. — Guardia di teata — Guardia di intrare. — Marozzo ..... 40 

Pig. 16. — Coda lunga e laiga — Becca poua. — Marozzo ...... 42 

Fig. 17. — Guardia di faccia — Becca ceta. — Marozzo , .... 43 

Fig. 18. — Prima Guardia. — Agrippa 46 

Fig. 19. — Prima Guardia, on a pais. — Agrippa ....... 46 

Fig. 20. — QoartB Guardia. — Agrippa 47 

Pig. 11. — Seconda Guardia, on a pass. — Agrippa ....... 47 

Fig. 31. — Sword and Buckler. — Agrippa 48 

Fig. 23. — The Two Swords.— GrMsi jo 

Pig. 24.^ — Estocade. From Lacombe's " Armes et Armurct " . . 53 

Fig, z;. — Braquemars and Anelace ......... 54 

Fig. 26. — Braqueinar 54 

Fig. 27. — Sainct Didiir. — " Tenue et garde du premier coup pour cxecuter et liire 

le quatriangle, pour le lieutenant et le Prevost" ...... 57 

Pig. 28. — -Sainct Didier. — " Ce que doit faire ledit Prevost pour soy defiendre dudit 

quatriangle, kc," ............ 58 

Fi^ 19. — Sainct DiDiEK. — " Premiere opposite ct suite du quatriangle " ... 58 




Fig. 30. — Sainct Didibr. — " Lc parachevement dudit quatriangle. Sec,** ... 59 
Fig. 31. — Sainct Didier. — " Premier coup tire sur le maindroit ou estoc d'hault, 8cc.** 59 
Fig. 32. — Sainct Didier. — "A prinsc faut faire centre prinse, &c." ... 60 

Fig. 33. — Sainct Didibr. — " Fin dc la contreprinse executee par lc Lieutenant contre 

le Prevost " 60 

Fig. 34, — Prima guard ia difensiva imperfetta. — Viggiani 61 

Fig. 35. — Seconda guardia aha ofFensiva perfetta. — Viggiani . . . . . 61 

Fig. 36. — Terza guardia, aha, oiFcnsiva, imperfetta. — Viggiani 62 

Fig. 37. — Quarta guardia larga, diffensiva, imperfetta. — Viggiani . . . . 62 

Fig. 38. — Quinta guardia streita, difensiva, perfetta. — Viggiani .... 63 

Fig. 39. — Sesta guardia larga, ofiensiva imperfetta. — Viggiani ..... 63 

Fig. 40. — Settima guardia stretta offensiva, perfetta. — Viggiani .... 64 

Fig. 41. — Classification of the Guards. — ^Viggiani ....... 65 

Fig. 42. — Spanish Sword. Early sixteenth century. From Lacombe's ^'Armes et 

Armures" 67 

Fig. 43. — Gaining the advantage by traversing. Adapted from Girard Thibaust . 68 
Fig. 44. — Rapier- play in German Schools about 1 570. — Meyer .... 74 

Fig. 45. — ^A German Guard with the " Rappir." — ^J. Sutor 74 

Fig. 46. — Meyer's Fencing School . . 75 

Fig. 47. — A German Guard. with Sword and Dagger 75 

Fig. 48. — ^The Schwerdt. — ^J. Sutor ....... ^^ . 76 

Fig. 49. — Pradtice at the Target with the Diisack. — J. Sutor 76 

Fig. 50. — The Diisack. — Countering a cut 77 

Fig. 51. — German Diisacks 77 

Fig. 52. — ^The Rappier. — J. Sutor 77 

Fig. 53. — Lansquenette or Landsknecbfs sword found on the north bank of the Thames 

near Westminster 78 

Fig. 54. — Saviolo's Guard with the Rapier alone . 81 

Fig. 55. — Saviolo's Second Guard with Rapier and Dagger ..... 87 

Fig. 56. — Ferita di seconda, contra una quarta. — Fabris ...... 98 

Fig. 57. — Ferita di quarta, contra una terza. — Fabris ...... 98 

Fig. 58. — Ferita di quarta contra una seconda.' — Fabris . . . . .100 

Fig. 59. — Ferita di seconda contra una quarta. — Fabris . . . .102 

Fig. 60. — A counter, parried with the dagger. — Fabris 103 

Fig. 61. — Italian Rapier. From Lacombe's *' Armes et Armures " . .105 

Fig. 62. — Capo Ferro, 1610. — Prima Guardia ; Quarta Guardia .... 108 
Fig. 63. — Capo Ferro, 16 10. — Seconda Guardia ; Sesta Guardia . . .108 

Fig. 64. — Capo Ferro, 1 610. — Terza Guardia ; Qu in ta Guardia . . .109 

Fig. 65. — Capo Ferro, 1610. — The ** botta lunga " 113 

Fig. 66. — Capo Ferro, 1610. — Time thrust, by a lunge . . . . .114 

Fig. 67. — Alfieri, 1640. — Time thrust, by a pass 114 

Fig. 68. — Capo Ferro. — Time thrust in quarta . . . . . . .115 

Fig. 69. — Capo Ferro. — A thrust by a pass, using the left hand to hold the adversary 115 
Fig. 70. — Alfieri, 1640. — A time thrust, on the adversary's disengagement, by dropping 

under his point ............ 116 

Fig. 71. — Capo Ferro, 16 10. — Figura che ferisce di quarta nella gola . . . 116 
Fig. 72. — Capo Ferro. — Figura che ferisce di quarta per di soito il pugnale nel petto 117 
Fig. 73, — Capo Ferro. — Figura che ferisce di seconda sopra il pugnale nel petto . . 117 
Fig. 74. — Capo Ferro. — Simple disengagement under the dagger pushed with a lunge . 118 
Fig. 75. — Capo Ferro. — A stab with the dagger delivered by a pass . .118 
Fig. 76. — Capo Ferro. — Sword and Cloak . 119 



Fig. 77. — Capo Ferro. — Sword and Buckler . 

Girard Thibaust, d'Anvers. {Heading) .... 

Fig. 78. — Thibaust's mysterious Circle .... 

Fig. 79. — The disadvantage of not stepping corrcftly across the mysterious circle. — 

Thibaust ... ....... 

Fig. 80. — Circles Nos. i and 2. — Thibaust 

Fig. 81. — ^Thc Sword alone against the Sword and Dagger. — Thibaust 

Fig. 82. — Time thrust, delivered as the adversary moves his hand to cut at the head. — 

Alfieri, 1640 

Fig. 83. — A thrust timed on the adversary's cut at the knee. — Alfieri 

Fig. 84. — Sword and Cloak, Paralyzing the adversary's sword-arm by throwing the 

cloak over his blade. — Alfieri, 1640 ....... 

Fig. 85. — Time thrust by ^ pass under the adversary's blade. — Alfieri, 1640 

Fig. 86. — A Counter. — Alfieri, 1640 

Fig. 87. — Parrying inwards, passing, and disengaging under the adversary's dagger.- 


Fig. 88. — The " estocades de pied ferme, in prime and tierce." From La Tousche 
Fig. 89. — Drawing and falling on guard ; two elevations of the hand ; a '' pass."- 

Liancour ........... 

Fig. 90. — Thrust in quarte, parried quarte. — A thrust in quinte. — Liancour 

Fig. 91. — Thrust in tierce, parried tierce. — ^A thrust in seconde. — Liancour 

Fig. 92. — Thrust in quinte, parried "cerclc." — ^A thrust in quarte. — Liancour 

Fig. 93. — ^Thrust in tierce, parried quarte (outside). — Disengagement in quarte. — 

Liancour ........... 

Fig. 94. — Thrust and parry in quarte, with opposition of the left hand. — Labat 

Fig. 95. — Thrust and parry in tierce. — Labat 

Fig. 96. — Thrust in tierce parried by yielding the faible. — Labat 

Fig. 97. — Thrust in tierce by yielding the faible. — Labat 

Fig. 98. — Thrust and parry in seconde. — Labat 

Fig. 99. — Thrust in quarte under the wrist (quinte). — Labat . 

Fig. 100. — ^Thrust in low quarte, parried by the circle. — Labat 

Fig. 1 01. — Flanconnade. — Labat ..... 

Fig. 102. — Flanconnade parried by the left hand. — Labat 

Fig. 103. — ^A pass in quarte, parried in quarte. — Labat 

Fig. 104. — A " time," taken on a pass by lowering the body. — Labat 

Fig. 105. — Time, taken on a pass in seconde, by volting. — Labat 

Fig. 106. — Seizing the hilt by turning the body sideways, on a pass in tierce. — Labat 

Fig. 107. — Disarming by a heavy parry. — Labat 

Fig. 108. — Stepping forward with the left foot and seizing the blade 

Fig. 109. — Coming on Guard, and first motion of the Salute. — Dane 

Fig. no. — The Salute, second and third motions. — Danet 

Fig. III. — High carte parried carte. — Danet. 

Fig. 112. — Carte parried carte outside. — Danet 

Fig. 113. — Prime parried prime. — Danet 

Fig. 114. — Tierce parried tierce. — Danet 

Fig. 115. — Carte parried low tierce. — Danet. 

Fig. 116. — Seconde parried seconde. — Danet 

Fig. 1 1 7. — Carte parried half-circle. — Danet . 

Fig. 118. — Carte coupee parried odlave. — Danet 

Fig. 1 19. — Low carte parried low carte. — Danet 

Fig. 120. — Flanconnade, with opposition of the left hand. — Danet 


— Labat 
































Fig. 121. — Quinte parried quinte. — Danet 170 

Fig. 122. — Parade dc pointc volantc. — Danet. . . • . . .170 

Coat granted to the Academie d*Arm^s de Paris by Louis XIV. {Tailpiece) . . 171 

Fig. 123. — The Spanish Guard, according to Danet 175 

Fig. 124. — The Italian Guard opposed to the French, according to Danet . . 177 

Fig. 125. — The German Guard opposed to the French. — Danet . . . .183 

Fig. 126. — Badge of the ** Society of Sword-men " in Scotland 199 

Fig's Business Card ............ 206 

Fig. 127. — The Guard in " Backswording '* 208 

Fig. 128. — Flip at the head 208 

Fig. 129. — Cut at the left side parried 209 

Fig. 130. — A Return to the left cheek over the elbow ...... 209 

Fig. 131. — A successful flip at the head . . . . . . .210 

Fig. 132. — The Outside Guard. — Roworth 215 

P^g« '33- — ^The Inside Guard. — Roworth 216 

Fig. 134. — The Hanging Guard. — Roworth 218 

Fig. 135. — The Spadroon Guard. — Roworth 219 

Fig. 136. — The St. George's Guard. — Roworth . . . .219 

Fig. 137. — German Rapier. Early seventeenth century. From Lacombe's ** Armes et 

Armures" ............. 224 

Fig. 138. — German Sword, with finger loop. Early sixteenth century . . . 232 
Fig. 1 39. — Back Sword, showing the single-edged blade. Sixteenth century . . 242 

Fig. 140. — The " Misericorde " 244 

Fig. 141. — Spanish Shell Dagger ("Main Gauche '*). Close of sixteenth century. 

From Lacombe's " Armes et Armures " 245 


Frontispiece. — An ** Espadachin," middle of the seventeenth century. Adapted from 
a pidlure by M. Louis Leloir. 

Carbon Plates. 

I. — Swords, early sixteenth century — German swords, sixteenth century — 

Rapiers to face p 

II. — Rapiers — Basket-hilted Broadswords ..... 
IIL — Shell-guard Rapiers — Rapiers and Sword — Flambergs 
IV. — Daggers — Broadswords, seventeenth century — Transition Rapiers 
V. — Transition Rapiers — Small Swords — Spanish Swords 
VI. — Typical forms of the Sword 




Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Centuries. 


Books relating to the art of fencing arc on the whole fairly 

1 numerous, since upwards of 400 such works are known to have 

8 been published between 1474 and 1884. Nevertheless, as is the 

ml case with most special worl^, old books of this kind are excessively 

difficult to find, owing probably to the fai% that most of them 

were only printed in limited numbers, generally for circulation among the 

author's pupils. Indeed, in the case of the more important and expensive 

treatises, the number of copies was praftically limited to that of the subscribers. 

Besides their small circulation, such treatises are likely to have been much 
neglefted, being of little interest to the merely praftical fencer, and offering 
small attradions to the ordinary bibliophile unless they contained valuable 
engravings. A good colleiftion of fencing works is consequently a rarity, as 
the love of old books and a taste for the art of hghting form a combination 
not often to be found in one and the same man. 

It is presumably for the same reason that so little has been written on 
the hibliography of fencing, — the only handy source of information being 
notices under the head " Fechtkunst " to be found in some German cyclo- 

A good many years ago a very copious list of books on sword-play was 
compiled by Mr. W. F. Foster, which, however, being only to be found in 
some back numbers of" Notes and Queries," has not proved as useful as it 
might be. Several works mentioned in these pages have been extradted 
from his list, but it is difficult to believe in the authenticity of some of them, 
the information concerning which seems to have been somewhat indis- 
criminately received. Such books are noted with a query after their date. 

A want felt by all those interested in the Art of Fence was to a great 
extent met by Monsieur Vigeant, one of the most eminent of Paris fencing- 
masters, who brought out in 1882 a fascinating little volume, " La Biblio- 
graphie de I'Escrime Ancienne et Moderne." 

Besides being a most accomplished master of his art, M. Vigeant is a 


connoisseur of books and engravings, a very facile writer in the Parisian 
journalistic style, and the author of several books as artistic in appearance as 
they are sparkling in tone. 

His work, the first of its kind, was greeted with delight by the fencing 
community ; but, notwithstanding its great value, — chiefly on account of the 
notes of such a well-known master of the sword, — as it omitted many very 
important works, it left room for further researches. 

The following pages dealing only with authors who lived before the 
beginning of the century, cdntam no less than fifty-four diflt^rent books 
unnoticed in the " Bibliographie de TEscrime," besides many details concerning 
others, the titles only of which were registered in that work. 

Out of the 230 books here described, fifty-five are to be found in the 
British Museum, some twenty more existing in the Bodleian and the South 
Kensington Libraries. The faA has been recorded in each instance among 
other details concerning the work. 

The titles of many old-fashioned books may be often looked upon 
as a kind of preface, detailing minutely the nature of their contents. Such 
details, likely to prove interesting when the books theftiselvcs are not obtain- 
able, have been fully given whenever it was possible, together with the dedi- 
cation, the number and nature of plates, the names of the printer and book- 
seller, &c. 

The chronological (instead of the more common alphabetical order) and 
division into languages have been adopted for the sake of greater facility in 
referring to any particular period. Among the German wiU be found all 
works, including some in French and Latin, printed on German presses. A 
few books in the French language, printed in England for the use of 
English fencers, have similarly been ranked with the English. Portuguese 
and Spanish books have been classed together. 

Assuming, for the sake of comparison, that the bibliography given in 
this book is approximately complete, it seems that Italy brought out, during 
the sixteenth century, sixteen different printed works or editions, Germany 
five, Spain four, England and France three each. 

During the seventeenth century : Italy thirty-one, Spain twenty-eight, 
Germany twenty-six, France fourteen, England seven. 

During the eighteenth century : England twenty-seven, Germany twenty- 
five, France twenty-two, Spain seven, Italy six. 

Altogether, fifty-six German, fifty-three Italian, thirty-nine Spanish, 
thirty-nine French, and thirty-seven English. 



•JAYME (Jaumb or Jacobus) PONS (or PON A) de Majorca. Pcrpiftan. 1474. 


Don Luis Pacheco de Narvaez, Morsicato Pallavicini, and Antonio Marcelli (see 1600, 
Spain; and 1670, 1686, Italy) mention in biographical notes these two authors, as having 
written, in Spanish, on the art of fencing. Their works, however, have never been 

"FRANCISCO ROMAN. Tratado de Esgrima, With plates. Folio. Sevilla. 1532. 

This, no doubt, is not the true title. It is given on the authority of Almirante's Biblio- 
grafia Militar. 

-JERONIMO DE CARRANZA. De ,a filosofia de las armas, de su destreza y de la 

agresion y defension Christiana. Luciferi Fano (vulgo San Lucar). 4^. 1569. 

(See 1582.) 

Los cinco libros sobre la ley de la Injuria^ de falabra de obra^ en que se incluyen las 

verdaderas resoluciones de la bonra, y los medios con que se satisfacen las afrentas, escritos for el 
Comendador JERONIMO SANCHEZ DE CARRANZA, natural de esta ciudad de Sevilla, 
Caballero delbabito de Cristo, MS. Pag. 300. 4**. 

Libro de JERONIMO DE CARRANZA, que trata de la filosofia de las armas y de 

su destrexayy de la agresion y defension Christiana. San Lucar de Barrameda. 

4^ Lisbon. 1582. 

At the end : Acabose este libro de speculation de la destreza afio 1 569 / imprimiose en la 
ciudad de San Luear de Barrameda en casa del mismo autor, por mandato del Exemo Setior 
D, Alonso Perez de Gusman, el Bueno, Duque de Medina Sidonia, &*c,, &*c. 

Portrait of the author. (See also 1600.) 

The BibUotheca Hispana nova. Nicolas Antonio. Madrid. 1783, mentions the existence 

of the following MSS. in this wise : 

Scripsit F. FRANCISCUS GARgiA, Mercenariorum Sodalis etc. : Verdadera 

intelKgencia de la destreza de las armas del Comendador Geronymo Sanchez Carranza de Barreda 
(Barameda ?)• 

Extat MS. inter libros qui nunc sunt excelentissima comitissa. 

Scripsit GUNDISALVUS DE SILVA, qui se vocat Centurionem (sen Capitaneum, vulgo) : 

Compendio de la verdadera destreza de las armas. In Villaumbrosana bibliotheca. MS. 4**. 


AnonymuSf in bibliotbeca Villaumhrosana extans^ scripsit : De la destrexa de Us armas. 

MS. 4*. 

-Anonymus alius scripsit : Lihro del Exercicio de las armas. In bibliotbeca Escurialensi regia. 


The work of JERONIMO DE CARRAN^A (see 1569) was reprinted in Madrid. 

4^ 1600. 

Libro de las grandezas de la Espada^ en que se declaran mucbos seer e to s del que compuso el 

Comendador Geronimo de Carranza. En el cual cada uno se podra liqionar y deprender a solas^ 
sin tener necessitad de maestro que h ensene. 

Dirigido a Don Felipe II I. ^ Key de las E span as y de la mayor parte del Mundo, N,S. 

Compuesto por D. LUYS PACHECO DE N ARVAEZ, natural de la Ciudad de Baefa, 
etc, etc, 4^ Madrid. 1599-1600. 

Por los berederos de y, Iniquez de Lequerica, Este libro tiene 8® pUegos, vendese en la Calle 
de Santiago, 

Portrait of Don Luis, two figures, and 155 diagrams, woodcut, in the text. 

Approbation and royal privilege. In the Brit. Mus. 

Cien conclusionesy formas de saber, de la verdadera destreza, fundada en ciencia,y diezy 

ocbo contradicciones a las de la comun, por D. LUIS PACHECO DE NARVAEZ. 

Apud Lodovicum Sancbez^ * Folia Matriti. 1608. 

Compendia de la Jilosofia y destreza de las armas de Geronimo dt Carranza, por DON 

LUIS PACHECO DE NARVAEZ. ^\ Madrid. 1612. 

A. Don F. de Rojas y Sandoval, segundo duque de Cea, En Madrid por L, Sancbez, 

Woodcuts in the text. 

•DON ATANASIO DE AYALA. El bisono instruido en la disdplina militar. 

8^ Madrid. 1616. 
This is a military handbook for the instruction of recruits in the use of arms. 

G. S. DE CARRANZA. Discurso de armas y letras, sobre las palabras del proemio de 

la instituta del Emperador Justiniano, &*c,i 6r*c. MS. Pag. 28. 4*. Sevilla, 1616. 

DON LUIS PACHECO DE NARVAEZ. Carta al Duque de Cea, diciendo su parecer 

acerca del libro de Geronimo de Carranza, De Madrid en quatro de Mayo, 

8^ Madrid. 1618. 

Apologia de la destreza de las armas, Defensa del libro de Carranza sobre ello. For 
D. JUAN FERNANDO PIZARRO. 8«. Trujillo. 1623. 


'ModQ facil y nuivo para examsnarse ios Maestros en la destreza de Ian armas y entender sus 
cien cenciusionesy o form as de saber. 

Dirigido al Senor Wolfango GuillermOy Conde Palatine del Rhin, iS^f., 6*r. 

Ppr DON LUIS PACHECO DE NARVAEZ, Maestro del Rey, Nuestro Senor, en la 
Jilosofia y destreza de las armas, y mayor en los Reynos de Espana. 8^ Madrid. 1625. 

Printed by Luis Sanchez. Approbation. In the Brit. Mus. 

■ Engano y desengano de los error es que se ban querido introducir en la destreza de las armas^ 
por DON LUIS PACHECO DE NARVAEZ. 4^ Madrid. 1635. 

Engano y desengano de los errores en la destreza de las armas, por DON PEDRO 

MEXIA DE TOBAR. 4». Madrid. 1636. 

Adverteneias para la ensetianza de la destreza de las armas, asi a pie como a cavallo, por 

DON LUIS PACHECO DE NARVAEZ. • \\ Madrid. 1639. 

DIAZ DE VIEDMA. Epitome de la ensenanza de la filosojia y destreza matematica de 

las armas. 8^ Cadiz. 1639. 

Compendio en defensa de la doBrina y destreza de Carranza, por LUIS MENDEZ DE 
CARMONA. 4». Sevilla. 1640. 

-CRISTOBAL DE CALA. Desengano de la Espada y Norte de diestros. 

4^ Cadiz. 1642. 
In the B. Nacional. 

■A second edition of D. LUIS PACHECO DE NARVAEZ's Modo facU para 

examinarse etc. (see 1625) was printed por los berederos de Pedro Lanaja, impressores 

del Reino de Aragon y de la Universidad in Zarago9a. 8^ 1658. 

With this book is often to be found, as an appendix : 

Adicion a la Jilosofia de las armas. Las diez y ocbo eontradiciones de la comun destreza, por 
el mismo autor. Ano M.DC.LX. In the Brit. Mus. 

Defensa de la doBrina y destreza de las armas, por DON MIGUEL PEREZ DE 

MENDOZA. 4^ Madrid. 1665. 
Resumen de la verdadera destreza en el manejo de la Espada^ por D. GOMEZ ARRIAS 

DE PORRES. 4«». Salamanca. 1667. 

Por Melcbor Estevez. 
In the BB. Nacional y de Fernandez San Roman. 


-^-^Ntteva ciencU y Jiiosefia de U destreza de las armas^ su tioiicay pra^ca. 

A la Magestad de Felipi quarto, Rey, y Senor Nuistro, di las Espanas y de la mayor parte 

de Mundo, 

For DON LUIS PACHECO DE NARVAEZ, su maestro, y mayor en todos sus Reynos y 
Senorios. 8*. Madrid. 1672. 

A costa de Manuel de Sossa, assensista de su Magestad, por Meicbor Sanchez. Approbttion 
and license. 

^DON MIGUEL PEREZ DE MENDOZA Y QUIXADA. Principios de los cinco 

sujetos principales de que se eompone lajilosofiay matematica de las Armas, pra&ica y especulativa, 

8^ Pamplona. 1672. 
In the BB. de Ingenieros, del Senado, de Fernandez San Roman. 

'Compendio de los fundamentos de la verdadera destrexa y Jilosofia de las armas. 

Dedicado a la Catolica, Sacra y Real Magestad del Rey, Nuestro Senor, Don Carlos Segundo, 
Monarca de Espana y de las Indias. 

Calatrava. 4^ Madrid. 1675. 

Con Privilegio. En Madrid por Antonio de Zafra. 

Sixteen copperplates. 

To the above is generally found joined a smaller work, entitled as follows : 

Siguese el papel de Juan Caro, en que impugna U obra con S^uince Oiepciones, y la respuesta 
de el Autor a ellas. 

With one copperplate. In the Brit. Mus. 

•Cornucopia numerosa, 

Alfabeto breve de principios de la verdadera destreza y filosojia de las armas, colegidos de las 
obras de Luis Pacheco de Narvaez, por D. CASPAR AGOSTIN DE LARA. 

4^ Madrid. 1675. 
In the BB. Nacional, de Fernandez San Roman, dc Mariitegui, 

Resumen de la verdadera destreza de las armas, en treinta y ocbo asserciones resumidas y 

advertidas con demonstraciones pra3icas, deducidas de las dos obras principales que tiene escritas su 

ensena la Destreza a su Aheza el Serenistimo Senor D. Baltasar Carlos {que Dios tiene), de la 
camara de Serenissimo Senor, Don Juan de Austria, y su Maestro de la Destreza, Natural de la 
ciudad de Logrono. 4®. Madrid. 1675. 

In the BB. de Ingenieros, del Senado, de Fernandez San Roman. 

THOMAS LUIS. Tratado das lifoes da Espada preta, e destreza com que boo de usar os 
jugadores della. zg pag, Z"" y i lamina. Folio. Lisboa. 1685. 


Resumen de la verdadera destreTM far a saber los (aminos verdaderos de la batalla^ for D. J. 


LORENZ DE RADA. Respuesta filosofica y matematica en la cual se satisfece a los 

arguments y profosidones, que a los profesores de la verdadera destreza y filosofia de las Armas se 
ban propuesto por un papel expedido sin nombre d*autor, 4^ Madrid. 1695. 

Por Diego Martinez ^ A bad. 

In the BB. Nacional y de Fernandez San Roman. 

D. DIEGO REJON DE SYLVA. Definiciones de la Ciencia de las armas. 

8^ Orihuela. 1697. 

Diestro Italiano y EspanoL Explican sus do&rinas con evidencias matbematicas conforme 

a los preceptos de la verdadera destreza y filosofia de las armas, 

Dedicado a la Catbolica, Sacra y Real Magestad del Rey Nuestro Sencr, monarca de EspaHa 
Cavallero del Orden de Calatrava, Capitan teniente de la Real Guardia Alemana de su 
Magestad. 4^ Madrid. 1697. 

En la imprenta de Manuel Ruiz de Murga, Four copperplates. 

In the BB. de Ingenieros, del Senado, de Fernandez San Roman. In the Brit. Mus. 

'Las tret as de la vulgar y comun esgrima de Espada sola^ y con armas dobles^ que aprobo don 

Luis Pacbeco de Narvaez, y las oposiciones que dispuso en verdadera destreza de ella^ por D. 
MANUEL CRUZADO Y PERALTA. 4«. Zaragoza. 1702. 

In the BB. de Fernandez San Roman y de Maridtegui. 

^^LORENZ DE RADA. Nobleza de la Espada, cuyo resplendor se expresa en tres libros, 
segun Ciencia, Arte y Experiencia, Folio. Madrid. 1705. 

Printed at the Royal Printing Press. 

In the BB. Nacional y de Fernandez San Roman. 

Experiencia del instrumento armigero espada, Por el Maestro de Campo D. FRANCISCO 

LORENZ DE RADA. Folio. Madrid. 1705. 

En Madrid, por Diego Martinez, abad, impresor de libros / vide en la calle de la Gorguera, 

Sixteen copperplates. 

Ilustracion de la destreza Indiana^ epistola oficiosa que escribio SANTOS DE LA PAZ^ al 

Maestro de campo Don F, Lorenz de Rada, l^c, l^c, sobre varios discursos publicados por el en 
la que intitulo defensa de la verdadera destreza de las armas. 

Sacala a luz el Capitan Diego Rodriguez de Guzman, etc, etc. 4^ Lima. 1712. 

D. NICOLAS RODRIGO NOVELL Crisol especulativo de la destreza de las armas. 

8^ Madrid. 1731. 


MANUEL MARTINS FIRME. Esfada Jirme o firme traaado psra o jogo ie esfada 

pnta e branca. Folio xxxvi-86. 8^ Evora. 1744. 

In the B. de J. C. de Figaniere. 

Arte de esgrimir fiorete y sable^por los principios mas seguros,faciles y intelligibles. 

Par D. JUAN NICOLAS PERINAT, Maestro de Esgrima en la Real Jcademia di 
Cavalleros Guardias Marinas, primera obra tocante a este Arte, 

Oblong. 4^ Cadix. 1758. 

At the end : En la imprenta de la Real Academia de Cavalleros Guardias Marinas, 
Thirty-«ix copperplates. 

-RODRIGUEZ DE CARVALHO. Resumo breve do Jogo de Florete em dialogo para 

cualquier curioso se afplicar ao serio estudio desta brilhante arte, 

Traduzido dos melbores AuSores Franceses, 8^ Lisboa. 1 804. 

DON MANUEL LOSA. Nueva ciencia de la destreza de las armas. 


Morsicato Fallavicini and Antonio MarccUi (see 1670 and 1686) mention PIETRO 

MONCIO as the author of a treatise on fencing printed in 1509. The book does not seem 
to be exunt. 

Di ANTONIO MANCIOLINO, Bolognese^ opera nova dove sono tntti li documenti e 

vantaggi cbe si ponno bavere nel mestier de PArmi d*ogni sorte, novemente correSa (t stampata. 

Per N, d'Aristotiley detto Zoppino, i6^ Vinegia. 153 1. 

A few woodcuts unconnected with the text. In the Brit. Mus. 

Opera nova di ACHILLE MAROZZO, Bokgnese, Maestro Generale de Parte deVArmi, 

4^ Mutinae. 1536. 

At the end is found this notice : Muttn^eyin adibus venerabiUs D, Antonu Bergola Sacerdotis 
ac civis Mutin. XXIII Idus Mali, 

Eighty-two woodcuts. In the Brit. Mus. and South Kens. 

A second edition of ACHILLE MAROZZO's work (see 1536) appeared in Venetfe. 

Stampata per Giovane Padouana, Ad instantia de Marcbior Sessa, In the Brit. Mus. 


MARC ANTONIO PAGANO. DiscipHna delPJrme, \\ Ntpoli. 1553. 

Trattato di Scmtia d'Jrme, cm m dialogo dtfilosofay M CAMILLO AGRIPPA, Milanese. 

4'*. Roma. 1553. 

In Roma per Antom Bladoy stampadore aposto&co. Con privilepo de N. Signore Papa GiulU 
III,, per amti died* 

Portrait of Agrippa, and fifty-five copperplates in the text. Dedicated to Cosimo de 
Medici. In the Brit. Mus. 

A third edition of ACHILLE MAROZZO's work (see 1536), thoagh bearing no date 

or printer's name, is presumed to have appeared in 1 568. 4^ 

This presumption is based on the great similarity of its typographical charadler with that 
of the following edition, although the text is slightly, and the plates altogether different. 

'Arte dell Arm de ACHILLE MAROZZO, Bolognese, rieorretto et omato di nuove figure in 

rame, 4*. Venetia. 1568. 

Copperplates in the text. 

This fourth edition, which contains more matter than the previous ones, was brought 
out under the care of the painter Giulio Fontana, and printed by A. Pinargenti. In the 
Brit. Mus. 

Di M. CAMILLO AGRIPPA. Trattato di seienza aWme, et un diakgo in detta materia. 

4^ Venetia. 1568. 

Like the preceding book, this edition of Agrippa was printed by A. Pinargenti, and dedicated 
to Don Giovanni Manriche by the painter Giulio Fontana. 

Portrait of the author, and forty-nine copperplates in the text. In the Brit. Mus. 

•Ragione di adoprar sieuramente PArme, si da offesa come da difesa; con un trattato deW inganno^ 

et con un mode di essercitarsi da se stesso, per acquistare forza, giudicio et prestezza, 

Di GIACOMO DI GRASSI, da Modena. 4^ Venetia. 1570. 

Appresso Gior^o di CavalB. 

Some copies bear the indication : Appresso Giordano Ziletti. 

Portrait of Grassi, and copperplates in the text In the Brit. Mus. and Bodl. 

Del Arte di scHmia £M tre di M. GIOVANNI DALL' AGOCCHIE, Bolognese. Ne 

quaU brevemente si tratta delTArte dello Scbermiref della Giostra, deW ordinar battagUe, Opera 
necessaria a Capitani, Soldatiet a qual si vogHa GentiPbuomo. 4^ Venetia, 1572. 

• Appresso G. Tamborino. Con Privikgio. 
Dedicated to Conte F. Pepoli. In the Brit. Mus. 

Lo Scbermo ^ANGELO VIGGIANI, dal Montone da Bologna. Nel quale^ per via di dialogo 



si discorre bitomo alT eccelenxa delPArm et delle lettere^ et intomo all offesa et difesa. Et msegna uffo 
Scbermo di Spa da sola sicuro e singolare cm una tavola copiosissima, 4". Vcnetia. 1 575. 

Appresso Giorgio AngeUeri, 

Nine copperplates in the text. In the Bodl. and South Kens. 

Nuovo et breve modo di Scbermire di ALFONSO FALLOPIA, Luccbese, Aljiere neUa 

Fortezza di Bergamo, 4^ Bergamo. 1584. 

Appresso Comin Ventura, 

Viggiani's work (see 1575) was reproduced under the care of Zacharia Cavalcabo. 

The author's name was spelt ANGELO VIZANI in accordance with the soft pronun- 
ciation of the Venetians, among whom he had so long taught fencing. 4^ Bologna. 1588. 

Per Gio, Rossi — eon licenza di Supertori, AW iUustrissimo Signore^ U Sig, Conte Firro 

The text is slightly altered from the first edition, and a portrait of Viggiani is added to 
the plates. In the Brit. Mus. and Bodl. 

MS. Discorso di CAMILLO PALLADINI, Bokgnese, sopra Parte della Scberma; come 

Parte della Scberma e necessaria a cbi si diletta d*Arme, Obi. 4®. 1 590 (?) 

Forty-two drawings in red chalk, imitated from the plates in Agrippa's treatise. In M. 
Vigeant's colledlion. 

Trattato in materia di Scberma di MARCO DOCCIOLINI, Fiorentino, Nel quale si contiene 

il modo e regolo d^adoperar la spada, cosi sola come accompagnata. 4®. Firenze. 1 60 1 . 

Nella stamperia di Micbelangblo SermatelU, 

Dedication to Don Giovanni Medici. 

•Essercitio MUitare il quale dispone Pbuomo a vera cogmtione del Scrimire di Spada et delPordinare 
PEssercito a battaglia, etc, etc. 

Di GIOVANNI ALBERTO CASSANI, di Frasinelh di Monserrato, 

4®. Napoli. 1603. 

This is rather a general handbook of the military art than a treatise on fencing. In the 
Brit. Mus. 

-A third edition of CAMILLO AGRIPPA (see 1553) was printed In Venetia, 

In the Brit. Mus. and Bodl. 4^ 1604. 

De lo Scbermo, overo scienza d'arme, di SALVATOR FABRIS, Capo del Ordine dei sette 

cuori. Folio. Copenhassen. 1606. 

Printed by Henrico Waltkirch. Frontispiece : Portraits of the King of Denmark, 
Christian IV., to whom the work is dedicated, and of the author. 

190 copperplates in the text, by A. Halbeek. In the Brit. Mus. 


Tea/rc, nel qual sono rappresentate diverse maniere e mode di par are et di ferire di Spada soU, e 
di Spada e pugnale; dove ogni studioso potra essercitarsi e farsi prattico nelia proffessione delVArmi, 

Di NJCOLETTO GIGANTl, Finitiano. Oblong 4*. Vcnctia. 1606. 

A I Sereniss, D, Cosmo di Media. 

Appresso Gio. Antonio Frances chi. 

Frontispiece, with the Medici arms, portrait of the author^ and forty-two copperplates 
out of the text. In the Brit. Mus. 

^A second edition of the above appeared in Venegia. Oblong 4**. 1608. 

Gran simulacro delVarte e dell uso della Scberma di RIDOLFO CAPO FERRO da Cagli, 

Maestro deW eccelsa natione aUmanna^ nelP inclita Citta di Siena. Oblong 4^ Siena. 1 6 10. 

Dedicato al Serenissimo Sig. Don Federigo Feltrio della Rovere^ Principe dello stato iUrbino. 

In Siena ^ al sopportico de Pontani. Appresso Saluestro Marchetti e Camillo Turi, con Ucentia d/ 
Superiari e con Privilegi. 

Portraits of the Duca d'Urbino and of Capo Ferro, and forty-three copperplates engraved 
by Rafael Schiamirossi. In the South Kens. 

■E. TORQUATO. Precetti stilla Scberma. 8*. Roma. i6io(?) 

Opera intorm alia PraSica e Tbeorica del ben adoperare tutte le sorti di arms; overo, la Scienza 

delPArme, da GIOVANNI ANTONIO LOVINO, Milanese. MS. On vellum. 4^ 

Mentioned in Bibliograpbie InstruBive. G. F. di Bure, Paris ^ 1764. l^oL Jurisprudence 
et Arts. 

Gioielo di sapienza^ nel quale si contengono ndrabili secreti e necessarii avertimenti per difendersi da 

gli buomini e da molti animali, (ff r. 

Nuovamente dato in luce da me ANTONIO QUINTINO ad instanza d*ogni spirito gentile. 

12^ Genova, Milano. 1613. 

Stampata in Genova et ristampata in Milano per Pandolfo Malatesta. 

Portrait of the author and fifteen woodcuts in the text. 

-A fifth edition of ACHILLE MAROZZO's work (see 1568) appeared in Verona. 

4^ 161 5. 

•Arte di maneggiar la Spada a piedi^ et a cavallo^ descritta daWAlfiero GIO. BATTISTA 

GAIANI e dedicata d Serenessimi Prencipi Vittorio Amadeo e Francesco Tomaso di Savoia. 

Opera per le nuove osservationi gia desiderata. 4^ Loano. 1 61 9. 

Appresso Francesco Castillo, Con licenza de* Superiori. 
In the Brit. Mus. 


Oplmacbia di BONAVENTURA PISTOFILO, mlla quale eU,^ si tratta per via 

a Teoria et di Pra&ica del maneggb e delPuso delle armi, 4^ Sienna. 1621. 

Delk verapratica e sctenza iarmi etc. Opera di SALVATOR FABRIS. 

Folio. Padova. 1624. 
Per Pietro Paolo Tozzi. 

GIO. ANTONIO LOVINO : Sull'arte di ben maneggutre la spada. 

Dedicated to Enrico III. 

This book is mentioned^ as having existed, in Mr. F. W. Foster's list of books on sword- 

// tomeo di BONAVENTURA PISTOFILO, HohiU Ferrarese, Dottor di Legge e 

Cavaliere nel Teatro di Pallade dell ordine MUitare et Accademico. 4^ Bologna. 1627. 

In Bologna per il Ferrone. Con Licenza de Superiori, 

Frontispiece and 114 copperplates, fifteen of which relate to the graceful management of 
the sword. No text. In the South Kens. 

-A second edition of NICOLETTO GIGANTI's work (see 1606) was published in 
Padua. Oblong 4^ 1628. 

Printed by Paolo Frambotto. Dedicated to the illusf^ Sig. Lazaro Stubicka da 

Giuoco iarme da TOR ELLl. 4*. Venetia ? 1632. 

La Scberma di F. ALFIERI, Maestro d*Arme delP Ilt^ Aceademia Delia in Padova. 

Dove, con nuove Ragioni e con Figure ^ si mostra la perfezione di quesfArte, e in cbe modo, 
secondo Parme e il sitOj possa il Cavaliere restar al suo nemico superiore. 

Oblong 4^ Padova. 1640. 

Dedicata alV Illt^ SS. della sopra detfa Aceademia. Per Seb. Sardi, con licenza. 

Portrait of the author and 37 copperplates after the manner of Callot. Alfieri wrote also 
a treatise on the two-handed sword. 

(Sec 1653.) 

VEsercizio della Spada, regolato con la perfetta idea della Scberma et insegnato dalla Maestra- 

mano di TERENZIANO CERESA, Parmegiano, detto VEremita. Opera utile e necessaria a 
cbiunque desidera uscire vittorioso dalli colpi della Spada nemica. 4^ Anc6na. 164T. 

Dedicata al Sig. Tomaso Palunci^ nobile Anconitano. Ancona, per M. Salvioni, Con licenza 
d^ superiori. 

A second edition of F. ALFIERI't work (sec 1640) was published in Ancona. 

4*. 1645. 


Varte di ben maneggiare la Spada, di FRANCESCO ALFIERI, maestro d'arme delP 

iliitstrissima academia Delia in Padova. Obi. 4^ Padova. 1653. 

Many copperplates. In the Brit. Mus. 

'L$ Spadone di F. ALFIERI, Maestro d* Arme dellllf^ Academia Delia in Padova. Dove 

si mostra per via di Figura il maneggio e Puso di esse, 4*. Padova. 1653. 

Per Sebastiano Sardi. Con lieenza de Superiori. 

Seventeen copperplates, many of which are repeated. In the Brit. Mus. 
(See also 1640.) 

Jl vero maneggio della Spada, i/'ALESSANDRO SENESIO, gentiPhuomo bolognese. 

Folio. Bologna. 1660. 
Dedkato al Sereniss. Principe Fernando Carlo^ Ardduca d* Austria. Per PHerede di Benacci, 
Fourteen copperplates, out of the text. 

•Sluesiti del CavaUere instrutto neU arte della Scherma, 8^ Padova. 1664. 

FRANCESCO ANTONIO MATTEL Delia Scberma Napoletana. 

Novello de Bonis. 4^. Foggia. 1669. 

La Scberma lUustrata, composta da GIUSEPPE MORSICATO PALLAVICINI, Paler- 

mitano, Maestro di Scberma^ per la di cid teorica^ e prattica si puo arrivare con facilta alia difesa ed 
offesa necessarian nell occasioni d^assalti nemici. Opera utillissima aUe persone cbe si dilettano di qsiesta 
professhmey con le Figure deUa Scienza prattica, dicbiarate coi loro discorsi. 

Folio. Palermo. 1670. 
Per Dometdco d^Anselmo. Imp. CuzoHnus G, ii V. G, Imp. de la Torre R. P. Con 
privilegio per anni X. 

Dedicated AlP ill. Signore D. Francesco StateHa et Caruso, Marcbese di Spacca/umo, etc., etc. 
Frontispiece containing the arms of the Marchese di Spaccafurno, and thirty -one copper- 
plates. In the Brit. Mus. 

Trattato di Scberma Siciliana, ove si monstra di seconda intent ione, con una Unea retta : Difendersi 

di qual si voglia operatione di resolutione, cbe operata per ferire a qualunque, di punta, taglio, cbe 
accadesse in accidente di questionarsi, Aggiunto da GIUSEPPE VILLARDITA. Con exfressione 
di tutte le regole cbe nascono di seconda operatione, 1 2^ Palermo. 1673. 

In Palermo per Carlo Adamo. Imp, Cut:, G, Lu. Imp, R, lofpulus P, 

La seconda parte della Scberma Illustrata, ove si dimostra il vero maneggio della Spada e Pugnale^ 

et anco il modo come si adopera la Cappa^ il Brocbiero, e la Rotella di notte^ le quali regole non sono state 
intese da nessuno Autore, Composta da GIUSEPPE MORSICATO PALLAVICINI, Maestro 
di Scberma Palermitano, Folio. Palermo. 1673. 

Per Domenico d^Anselmo, etc, 

(See 1670.) 


Dedicated : JJI. 11/. Sign, e padrone colendissimo il Signwr Don Girolamo del Carretto e 
Brandfirte, etc, etr,, di ducbi di Sassonia. 

Frontispiece, containing the arms of the Conte di Racalmuto, and thirty-six copperplates. 
In the Brit. Mus. 

La Scberma Napolitana di FRANCESCO MONICA. 4^ Parma. 1680. 

A second edition of F* F. ALFIERI's Arte di ben mannegiare la Spada (see 1653) was 

published by Sardi, in Padova. Obi. 4^ 1683. 

Regole della Scberma insegnate da LeUo e Titta MarcelU, serine da FRANCESCO ANTONIO 

MARCELLIy^^i^i; e nipote^ e Maestro di Scberma in Roma. Opera non meno utile cbe necessaria a 
ebiunque desidera far proftto in questa professione. Dedicata alia sacra Real Maesta di Cbristina 
Akssandra, Regma di Suetia. 

Parte Prima: Regole della Spada sola. 

Parte Seconda : Regole della Scberma, 
Nella quale si spiegano le Regole della Spada e del Pugnale^ insegnate da Titta Marcellis con le regole 
di maneggiar la Spada col Broccbiere, Targa, RoteUa, Cappa, Lanterna; col modo di Giocar la Spada 
contro la Sciabola, 4^ in two parts. Roma. 1686. 

Frontispiece containing the portraits of the Marcelli who were fencing-masters, seven in 
namber. Copperplates in the text from designs by the author himself. In the Brit. 
Mus. and Bodl. 

La Spada Maestra di me BONDI DI MAZO, da Venetia, Libro dove si trattano i 

vantage della Nobilissima Professione della Scberma, si del caminare, girare e ritirarsi, come delferire 
sicuramente e difendersi. Obi. 4^ Venetia. 1696. 

Dedicato agP Illustrissimi e Eccelentissimi Signori Conti di Collalto e San Salvatore, In Venetia 
per Dominico Louisa a Rialto, a spese delPAuttore, Con Licenza di Superiori e privHegio. 

Eighty copperplatesL In the Brit. Mus. 

MS. British Museum. Additional, No. 23223. A treatise on fencing, in Italian. 

Forty-seven folios. Date, about the end of the seventeenth century. 

Scienza prattica necessaria alP buomo, overo modo per super are la forza colPuso regolato della 

Parte Prima, opera di C. CALARONE, detto PAngbiel: Maestro di Scberma Messinese, 

4^ Roma. 1714. 

Dedicata alP Eccellentissimo Signor Don Ignazio Migliaccio di Principi di Baucina, Principi di 
Mahagna, Duca di Galizia, etc, Nella stamparia di Luca Antonio Cbracas, Con licenza di 

Portraits of the Duca di Galizia and of the author, engraved on copper, out of the text. 
Woodcuts in the text. 

Ragionamenti Accademici intomo all* arte della Scberma di DI MARCO, professore di Scberma, 

Napoktano, 8^ Napoli. 1758. 


Discorsi mstruttivi ne quaU si tratta in farticolare intomo altarte della Scberma^ da A. DI 

MARCO. 8*. Napoli. 1759. 

Riffle ssioni fisicbe e geometricbe circa la misura del tempo ed equilibria di quelk e della natural 

disfosizione ed agilita dei competitori, in materia di scberma^ e regolamenti essenziali per saggiamente 
munirsi da ogni inconsiderate periglio sul cimento della spada nuda; da ALESSANDRO DI 
MARCO, Professore di Scberma Napolitano, maestro d^ due nobili Collegy Capece e Macedoniot e 
d^altri cavaJieri. I!**. Napoli. 176 1. 

Dedicato all ill. ed exc. Signore Francesco Capece Minutolo, Patriauo Napolitano. Con licenza 
di Superiori. 

(See also 1758-9.) 

PICARD ALESSANDRO BREMOND. Trattato sulla Scberma: traduzione dalla 

francese nella Ungua toscana. 8^ Milano. Pirola. Date ? 

This book is mentioned, as existing, in Mr. F. W. Foster's list of books on sword-play, 
but without date. 

The French original seems to be altogether unknown. 

GUIDO ANTONIO DEL MANGANO. Rifflessioni filosoficbe sopra Parte della scberma. 

%\ Pa via. 1 78 1. 

MICHELE MICHELI. Trattato in lode della nobile e cavalUresca arte della Scberma. 

DireSlo ai Nobih e Cittadm Toscani. Small 8^ Firenze. 1 798. 

Nella Stamperia granducale. Con approvaziom. 

La Scienza della Scberma esposta dai due amici ROSAROLL SCORZA, Capit. dei Zap^ 

patori Ital. Jgg. alio StatoMagg. del Genio, e GRISETTI PIETRO, Capitano di Jrtiglieria ItaL 

4^ Milano. 1803. 

RomofUy memento 

Haec tibi erunt artes 

Nella Stamperia del Giomale Italico, 
Ten lithographed plates. 



-HANS LEBKOMMER. Der Ahenn Fecbter mfengliche Kunst. 

4^ Franckfurt am Meyn. 1529-36 (?) 
Woodcuts from drawings of Albert Durer, by Hans Brosamer, in the text. 

Fecbtkumtf die RUterlicb^ nunnUcbe Kitmt und Handarbiit Fecbtens und Kempfens, 

4^ Franckfurt. 1558. 

Griindlicbe Bescbreibttng der Frejen^ RitterUcben umd AdeBcben Kumt der Fecbtens in allerley 

gebreucblkben Webren^ mit vil scbimen und niitTJkben Figuren gezieret itnd furgesteilet, durcb 
JOACHIM MEYER, Frejfecbter zu Strasburg. Oblong 4«. Strasburg. 1570. 

At the end : Getruckt zu Strasburg bey Tbiebolt Berger com Weynmarkt zum TreubeL 

Numerous woodcuts. In the Bodl. 

^A. GUNTERRODT. De veris prmd^ artis dimicatorue. 4*. Wittemberg. 1579. 

Secbs Fecbtscbukn (d» i, Scbau* und Pries- fecbten) der Marxbriider und Federfecbter, aus den 

Jabren 1573 bis 1614; Numberger Fecbtscbulreime v. J. 1579, una Rosener's Gedicbt: Ebrentitel 
un Lobsfrucb der Fecbtkunst^ ^S^9' — ^'^ ^^"^ Abbildung aus Leckucbner^s Handscbrifi uber das 
Messer ( Tesak) — Fecbten. 8*. 1 5 7 3- 1 6 1 4 . 

Bucbbandlung von Karl Groos. 

Published at Heidelberg, 1870. 

*— A second edition of JOACHIM MEYER's work (see 1570) appeared in Augsburg. 

Oblong 4^ 1 6 10. 
Getruckt zu Augspurg bey Micbael Mauger, in verbegung EUae WUlers, 
Seventy-three woodcuts. In the Brit. Mus. 

Ein new Kiinstlicb Fecbtbucb im Rappier zum Fecbten und Ba/gen, u, s. w. 

Durcb MICH. HVNDT. 4^ Leipsig. 161 1. 

New KunstUcbes Fecbtbucb, das ist aussfiibrMcbe Descbriptm der Freyen AdeUcben und Ritter- 
Ucben Kunst dess Fecbtens in den gebreucblicbsten Webren, ah Scbwerdt, Diisacken, Rappier ^ (ffr., l^c. 

Durcb den Wolerfabrnen und berubmten Freyfecbtem JACOB SUTORIUM, vm Baden. 

4^ Franckfurt. 161 2. 

Gedruckt zu Franckfurt am Mayn durcb Jcbann Bringem. In Verlegung Wilbelm Hoffmans. 


Ninety-four woodcuts in the text. In the Brit. Mus. 

A facsimile reprodudtion of this work wa» brought out at Stuttgart, by J. Scheible, 
in 1849. 

Neues KumtUcbes Fechtbucb des Weitberumten und viel erfahmen Italieniscben Fecbtmeister 

HIERONIMO CAVALCABO, zm Bommien Stievom, aus dem gescbrieben webcbem Exemplar 
durcb monsieur de yillammt, Ritter des Ordens zu Jerusalem, etc, etc., m franzdsicbe Spracbe 
transfersrt. Nun aber alien Loblicben Fecbtkunst Ltebbabem zu gefallen aus gemeher franzdsiscber 
Spraeb verdenselt durcb Conrad von EinsidelL Oblong 4**. Jena. 161 2. 

Six copperplates, out of the text. In the Brit. Mus. 

■GARZONII Allgemeiner Scbauplatz. Franckfurt. 16 19, 

■KOPPENV Cours v. d. Fecbtkunst. Small folio. Magdeburg. 1619. 

•Der Kunstreicben und toeitberiimeten Fecbtmeisters S. FABRIS Italianiscbe Fecbtkunst. 

Folio. Ley d en. 1619. 
Printed by Isaack Elzevier, and dedicated by the same to Gustavus Adolphus. 
The copperplates of the first edition are replaced by woodcuts (192). 

■KOPPEN. Newer Diskurs von der rittermassigen und wekberubmten Kunst des Fecbtens, u, s. to. 

Small folio. Magdeburg. 1619. 

Grundtlicbe und eigentlicbe Bescbreibung derfreyen Adelicben und Ritterlicben Fecbt Kunst im 

einfacben Rappir und im Rappir und Dolcb, nacb ItaUaniscber Manir und Art, in ztoey underscbiedene 
BUcber ferfast, un mit 670 scboenen und notbwendigen Kupfferstucken gezieret und for Augen gestellt. 

Durcb HANS WILHELM SCHOFFER, von Dietz, Fecb-Meister in Marpurg. 

Getruckt zu Marpurgk bey Joban Saum. Oblong 4®. Marpurg. 1620. 

Another edition of GIGANTFs Tbeatre (see Italy, 1606, France, 16 19) appeared, as a 

French and German translation, in Francfurth. Obi. 4^ 1622. 

In the Brit. Mus. 

Neu Kunst licb Fecbtbucb zum dritten mal auffgelegt und mit vielen scboenen Stucken verbessert. 

A Is des Sig. Salvator Fabri de Padua und Sig. Rud. Capo di Ferro, toie aucb anderer Italieniscben und 
Franzosicben Fecbter. 

Durcb SEBASTIAN HEUSSLER, Kriegsmann und Freyfecbter von Number g. 

Gedruckt zu Niimberg durcb Simon Halbmayerr. Obiong 4**. Niirnberg. 1630. 



In Verlegung Baltbasar Gaymoren, 

Sixty-two copperplates. (Sec also 1665.) In the Brit. Mus. 

-SALGENV KriegsUbung u. s. to. den frischanfabenden Fechtem und Soldatenfur erst nutxUch 

und nothig zu whsen, * ^ 3 7- 
MS. British Museum: Additional, No. 17533. — Three treatises in German on the 

Art of Fencing, as taught by Signor Sieg. Salvator and Signor Moman, by H. A. V. 

Folio, ff. 127. 
Ninety-three figures, drawn by the hand in Indian ink, copied from Fabris' plates. 
Date, middle of the seventeenth century. 

THIBAULD. Jrs digladiatoria. Folio. Amsterdam. 1650. 

A third edition of JOACHIM MEYER's work (see 1570) appeared in Augsburg. 

Oblong 4^ 1660. 

Von JOHANN GEORG. PASCHEN. Kurzejedocb deutlicbe Bescbreibung bandelnd vom 

Fecbten auf den Stoss und Hieb, Folio. Halle in Sach sen. 1661. 

(See also 1664, 1667, 1673, 1683.) 

Deutlicbe und GriindUcbe Erkldrung der AdeUcben und RitterUcben freyen Fecbtkunst. 

Durcb J. D. L'ANGE, Fecbtmeister. Oblong 8^ Heidelberg. 1664. 

Getrtukt zu Heidelberg bey Adrian Meingarten, 
Portrait of Daniel L'Ange, by Metzger, and sixty-one copperplates. 

A second edition of PASCHEN's work (see 1661) appeared in Halle. 

In the Brit. Mus. Folio. 1664. 

^JO. GE. TRIEGLERV neues KunstlUbes Fecbtbucb. 4^ Leipsig. 1664. 

KiinstUcbes Abprobites und Niitzlicbes Fecbt-Bucb von Einfacben und doppeken Degen Fecbten, 

damit ein ieder seinen Leib defendim kan. 

Durcb SEBASTIAN HEUSSLER. Oblong 4^ Nurnberg. 1665, 

Bey Paulus Fursten, Kumtbandler, 

1 24 copperplates. 

(See also 1630). 

-J. G. PASCHEN. Volbtandige Fecbt- Ring- und voltigier Kunst. 

Small folio. Leipsig. 1667. 
In verlag Joharm Simon Fickens und Jobann Polycarp Seiibolds. 


Grmdige Besehryvmge van de Edekende Ridderliycke Scherm^oftey Wafen Kmste, etc. 

Vytgegeven ende am den Dagb gebracbt door JOHANNES-GEORGIUS BRUCHIUS, 
Scberm ofte Vecbt^Meester der toigt-vermaerde Academic . Oblong 4". Ley den. 1671. 

Tot Leyden, bi Abrabam Verboef, 

Portrait of the author by Van Somer^ and 143 copperplates. 

-Another edition of PASCHEN's work (see 1667) appeared in Leipsig. 

Small folio. 1673. 

Scienza e pratica d*arme di SALVATORE FABRIS, Capo deW Ordme dei sette cuorL 

Das ist : Herm Salvatore FabriSy Obristen des Ritter Or dens der Sieben Hertzeriy ItaUaniscbe 

Von Jobatm Joacbim Hynitzcben^ Exercitien Meister. 4^ Leipsig. 1677. 

Gedruckt bey Micbael Boge, 

German translation parallel with the Italian text. The plates are the same as in the original 
edition^ with the addition of one, representing the monument ere£led to Fabris's memory in 
Padua, his native town, and of a portrait of a certain Heinrich, who seems to have patronized 
this reprodudlion of the great master's work. 

Der Kunst&cbe Fecbter, oder THEODORI VEROLINI Bescbreibung des Fecbtens im 

Rappier, Dusaeken und Scbtoerdt, 4^ Wurzburg. 1679. 

Der adelicben gemutben tvoblerfabme Exercitien-meister, d, /. 

FoUstandige Fecbt- Ring- und Voltigier Kunst, von JOH. GEORG. PASCHEN. 

Bei Cbristian Weidermannen, Small folio. Franckfurt una Leipsig. 1683. 

This book also appeared in Halle in the same year. 

BORATH. Palaestra Succana^ ott Part de Pescrime. Folio. Stockholm. 1693. 

Der geoffnete Fecbtboden^ auf welcbem durcb kurtz gefast Regeln gute Ankitung zum recbten 

Fundament der Fecbt kunst^ u. s, to, Mit dazu dienlicben Figuren. Ferfertigett von Sr. C. 

1 2\ Hamburg. 1 706. 

A second edition of the Italian and German reproduftion of SALVATOR FABRIS's 

work was published in Leipsig. 4^ 171 3. 

Leib'bescbirmende und Feinden Trotz^bietende Fecbt-Kunsty oder leicbt und getreiu Anweisung auf 

Stoss und Hieb zierlicb und sicber zufecbten. 

Nebst einem curieusen Unterricbt vom Voltigiren und Ringen, 

Von JOHANN ANDREAS SCHMIDT, des H. Rom, Reicbs Freyen Stadt l^umberg, 
besteliter Fecbt'Und'Exerciten Meister, Obi. 8°. Nurnberg. 1713. 


Nurnberg verkgt md %u Jinden bey Jobarm Cbristopb WeigeU Drukts Joham Mkbael 
SforUus seL Wittwe. 

Portrait of the author in his own fencing school, eighty-four copperplates, in and out of 
the text. In the Brit. Mas. 

Neu Alamodiscbe Ritterliche Fecbt-und^Scbirm Ktmst, Das ist Wabre md nacb neueter 

Franxosuber Mamer eingericbtete Untenoeisung tote man sieb in Fecbten und Scbirmen ferfe^Homren 
und verbalten solk. 

Denen resfeSive Herren Liebbaberen zu besserer Erleutermg mit 60 bierzu deutUcben Figuren 
berausgegeben, von ALEXANDER DOYLE, asu Irrhmd geburtig, 

(/) Tbrer Cburfurstl Gnaden zu Maintz verordneten Hof- Fecbmeistem, 

Obi. 4*. NUmbcrg. 1715. 

N limber g und Franckfurt zu Jinden y bey Paul Locbnem^ Bucbbandiem. 

In the Brit. Mus. 

■Mitbode tres facile pour former la noblesse dans tart de tefee^ faite pour PutiBte de tous Us 

amateurs de ce bel art, par le sieur JEAN JAMIN DE BEAUPRE, mattre en fait d'armes de Son 
Altesse S. EleSorale de Baviere^ a la celebre Universite d* Ingolstadt. 

On trouvera en ce livre, ranges en ordre, tous les mouvements generalement bien expliques qui sont 
necessaires a bien apfrendre et a enseigner a f aire des armes^ en allemand et enfranfais, avec 25 plancbes 
qui representent toutes les prirtcipales anions, a la demiere perfe^ian, Ce jeu est cboisi de ritaSen, de 
rAl/emand, de PEspagnol et du Franqais^ et compose de mamere^ par sa grande pratique , qiian pent 
Pappeller le Centre des Armes, 

Dedie a Son Altesse Elefforak de Baviere, 4^ Ingolstadt 172 1. 

Gedruckt bey T. Gran. 

Twenty-five copperplates, out of the text. 

A second edition of ALEXANDER DOYLE's work (see 171 5) appeared in Nurnberg. 

Obi. 4*. 1729. 

Anfangsgrunde der Fecbtkunst nebst einer Vorrede von dem Nutzem der Fecbtkunst und dem 

Fortzugen dieser Anweisung beraus gegeben von ANTHON FRIEDRICH KAHN, Fecbtmeister 
aufder Georgius Augustus Universitdt zu Gaettingen. 4**. Goettingen. 1739. 

Gedruckt bey Scbultzen, Universitats-Bucbdrucker. 

Portrait of Kahn and twenty-five copperplates, out of the text, engraved by F. Fritsch. 
In the Brit. Mus. 

SCHMIDT (JOHANN ANDREAS). Fecbt und Exercitien Meister. GrundBcb kbrende 

Fecbt'Scbule. 8^ Nurnberg. 1749. 

(See 1729.) In the Bodl. 

SCHMIDT'/ Fecbt-Kunst, 8*>. Nurnberg. 1750. 

SCHMIDT (JOH. ANDRE). Lehrende Fecbt scbule, 8^ Nurnberg. 1760. 

Mit Kpf 


A second edition of A. F. KAHN's work (see 1739) was printed in Helmstadt. 

Bey Christian Friedrkb IVejgrand. 4®. 1761. 

Haupt. S. WErSCHNER. Vebvngen auf dm fUntlicben Sacbsiscben Hoffecbtboden zu 

Weimar^ verb, und vem. Aufi. Weimar. 1 764. 

HOFFMAN. Ritterlicbe Gescbicklicbkeit im Fecbten durcb ungezwungene Stellungen, Mit 30 

Kpf. 4°. Weimar. 1766. 

Haupt. S. C. F. WEISCHNER. RitterRcbe Gescbicklicbkeit im Fecbten. 

4". Weimar. 1766. 
Thirty copperplates. 

HEINRICH CHRISTOPH RANIS. Konigl. Commissarii und Fecbtmeisters Anweisung 

zur Fecbtkunst. Mit Kupfem. Brit. Mus. 8^ Berlin. 1771. 

Bey August Mylius. 

Four copperplates, folded. 

TEMLlCH's An/angsgriinde der Feebt'Kwtst. S\ Halle. 1776. 

'VESTEK's An/eitung zur adeHeben Fecbt'iunst. 8^ Breslau. 1777. 

■SCHMIDT ( JOH. ANDR.). Fecbt-Kunst oder Anweisung in Stoss und Hieb. Wie aucb 

zum Ringen und Foltigiren. 12°. Niirnberg. 1780. 

Mit %zjiguren. 

SCHMIDT. Fecbt-Kunst auf Stoss und Hieb. 8*. Leipsig. 1780 

HASPELMACHERV Systematiscbe Abbandlung von den scbddlicben Folgen einer nicbt auf 

sicbere Regeln gegrundeten Fecbtkunst^ nebst einer Anweisung wie man solcbe verweiden kann. 

Bei Job. Heinricb Kubniin, 8°. Helmstadt. 1783. 

—HEINRICH ROUX (the father). Fersucb uber das Contrafecbten auf der recbten und 
linken Hand nacb Kreuzler* scben Grundsatzen. 4®. Jena. 1786. 

Bei Croker. 

Flucbtige Bemerkungen Uber die verscbiedene Art zu fecbten einiger UniversUdten, von einem 

Jleissigen Beobacbter. Halle. 179 1-2. 

-SCHMIDT'/ Lebrscbuk der Fecbtkunst i Tbeil, oder Lebrbucbfur die Cavakrie zum vortbeil- 

haften Gebratube des Sabels. 4«. Berlin. 1797. 


J. AD. K. ROUX. Griindtlicbe und vollstdndige Anweisung in der teutschen Fechtkunst auf 

Stoss und Hieb aus ibren hmersten Gebeimnissen toissemcbaftUcb erlduterty u, s. to. mit Kupfern. 

In Wolfg, StabPs BucbdL 4«. Jena. 1798. 

One copperplate, folded, containing several figures. 

■J. ROUX. Grundriss der Fecbtkunst als gymnastiscber Uebung betracbtet. Jena. 1798. 

Tbeoriscb praktiscbe Anweisung Uber das Hiebfecbten^ von J. ROUX. Furth. 1803. 

Vart defaire des armes redidt a ses vrais principes. Con tenant tous les prindpes necessmres a 

cet art qui y sont expliques d*une maniere claire et intelligible, Cet ouvrage est compose pour lajeune 
noblesse et pour les personnes qui se destinent au metier de la guerrey ainsi que pour tous ceux qui 
portent Pepee, On y a joint un traite de Pespadon^ oit Pon trouve les vrais principes de cet arty qui y 
sont expliques d'une fa^on aiseCy et qui est rempli de decouvertes vraiment nouvelles, 

Dedie a S. A. R. Monseigneur PArcbiduc Cbarles, par M. J. DE SAINT-MARTIN 
Mattre d* Armes Imperial de PAcademie Tberesienne, et ancien officier de cavalerie, Enricbi de 
J 2 figures pour P intelligence de r ouvrage, 4®. Vienna. 1804. 

Cet ouvrage se trouve cbez Pauteur a la Leimgrubeny No, 155, au premier etage, a Vienne, 

Portrait of Saint-Martin, and seventy-two copperplates. 


'La noble science des joueurs ^espee, 4®. Paris. IS33 (0 

A second edition of the above appeared in Antwerp. 4*. 1535 (1538 ?) 

As a second title: Icy commence un tres beau Uvrety contenant la cbevaleureuse science des joueurs 

d*espeeyp9ur apprendre ajouer de Pespee a deux mains et autres semblabes espies yavec aussiles braquemars 

et aultres courts cousteaux ksquelz Ion use a une main 

At the end : Imprime en la ville Danvers par moy, GtdUaume Wostermany demourant a la 

Ucome d*or. 

Black-letter. Fourteen whole-page, twelve half-page blocks, woodcut. In the Brit. Mus. 

Traite contenant les secrets du premier livre sur Pespee seuJe, m}re de toutes armesy qui sont espee. 

daguey cappey targuiy bouclieryrondellcy Pespee deux mains et Us deux espeesy avec ses pourtraiSluresyOyant Us 


armes au potng pour se deffendreret offencer a un mesme temps des coups qiionpeut tirer^ tout en assaillant 
qiien deffendant^fort utile et profitable pour adextrer la noblesse et supost de Mars ; redige par art^ ordre 

et pratique. 

Compose par HENRY DE SAINCT -DIDIEK, gentilbomme provencal. 

Dedie ei la Maieste du Roy tres cbrestien Charles neufiesme, 4®. Paris. 1 573. 

A Paris ^ imprime par Jean Mettayer et Mattburin Challenge y et se vend chez Jean Daliery sur 
le pont Sain£i Michel^ a Penseigne de la Rose blanche, 

Avec Privilege du Roy. 

Portrait of the author and of Charles IX.^ and sixty-four woodcuts^ in the text. In the 
Brit. Mus. 

Traite, ou instru£Hm pour tirer des armesy de Pexcellent scrimeur HYERONIME CAVAL- 

CABO, Bolognois, avec un discours pour tirer de Pespee seule, fait par le deffunt PATENOSTRIER, 
de Rome. 

Traduit ^itaUen en franfois par le seigneur de Villamont^ chevalier de P ordre de Hierusalem et 
gentilhomme de la chambre du Roy. 12^ Rouen. 1609. 

Chez Claude le ViUdn^ libraire et relieur du Roy^ demourant a la rile du Bee, a la Bonne 

Dedicated to the Marechal de Brissac. 

A. VAN BREEN. Le Mamement ^ Armes de Nassau avecq Rondelles, Piques^ Espeeet Targes / 

representez par Figures. South Kens. Fol. La Haye. 161 8. 

Escrime nouvelle ou Theatre au quel stmt representees diver ses manihes deparer et de/rapper^d^espee 

seuU et d^espee et poignard ensemble^ demontrees par figures entaillees en cuivrCypubUe en faveur de ceux 
qui se deleSent en ce tres noble exercice des armesy par NICOLAT GIGANTI, Venetieny et traduit 
en languef ran faise par Jacques de Zeter. Oblong 4®. Francofurti. 1619. 

Apud J a, de Zetter, 

Portrait of the author^ and forty-two copperplates, out of the text. In the Brit. Mus. 

AcademU de Pespee a pud et a chevaly de GIRARD THIBAUST. 

Paris. 1626 (?) 

Academie de PEspee de GIRARD THIBAUST d-AnverSy ou se demonstrent par reigles 

mathematiquesy sur le fondement d'un cercle mysterieuXy la theorie et pratique des vrais et iusqt^ a present 
incognus secrets du mamement des armesy ^ pied et a cheval. Folio. Leyde. 1628. 

Frontispiece, portrait of Girard Thibaust. Nine plates containing the coats-of-arms 
of nine kings and princes who patronized this work. Forty-six copperplates, drawn and 
engraved by Crispin de Pas, Gelle, Nicol Lastman, Andreas Stockins, Ad. Mcetham, T. Van 
Paenderen, Role Beaudouc, Iselburg, Wilhelm Delff, P. Sherwontors, Bolsworth, Crispian 


Queborn, Salomon Saurius, Schelderie, Egbert a'Paondoron, Petras de Todo, Jacobus a'Borch, 
Scheltus, W. Jacobi. 

Privileges of Louis XIII., dated 1620, and of the States General of the Low Countries, 
dated June the 5th, 1627. 

The name of the printers and the place of impression is only to be found in a few rare 
copies, bearing on the last page this notice announcing the death of the author : — 

Un advertissement au leSieur, 

Le kSeur sera adverti que Vautheufy ayant eu k dessein de produire la science de Pescrime a cheval 
avee celle a fied, eomme il eu est fait mention au frmtispice de ce livre, la snort Payant prevenu^ ne Pa pu 
mettre en effeS ; mesme Pimpression du present livre eu a este retarde iusques a present. 

A Leyde, imprime en la Typograpbie des Elzeviersy au mois d* A oust Pan cioidczxx. 

UExercice des armes ou U Maniement dufleuret par JEAN BAPTJSTE LE PERCHE 

DU COUDRAY. Folio. Paris. 1635 (?) 

•Le Mdstre d'arme Uberal^ traittant de la tbeorie de Part et exercice de Pespee seule, oufleurety et de 

tout se qui ^y peutfaire et pratiquer de plus subtil^ avec les principales figures et postures en taille douce; 
contenant en outre plusieurs moralitex iur ce sujet. 

Fait et compose par CHARLES BESNARD, hreton originaire, habitant la ville de Rennes 
et y monstrant le susdit Exercice, 4®. Rennes. 1653. 

Dedie a Nosseigneurs des Estats de la province et ducbe de Bretagne, 

A Rennes, cbex Julien Herbert, imprimeur et libraire, riie St. Germain^ a Pimage S. J alien. 
Avec Privilege du Roy. 

Four copperplates, out of the text. 

A second edition of the Academie de PEpee of GIRARD THIBAUST (see 1628) 

appeared in Brussels. Folio. 1668. 

'Les vrays principes de Pespee seule, dediez au Roy, par le Sieur DE LA TOUCHE, Maistre 

en faits dWmes a Paris et des pages de la Reyne, et de ceux de la Cbambre de son Altesse Royale, 
Monseigneur le due d* Orleans. Oblong 4**. Paris. 1670. 

A Paris, de Pimprimerie de Francois Muguet, riie de la Harpe. 

Portrait of La Touche, thirty-five copperplates out of the text. 

•Vexercice des armes ou le maniement du fleuret. Pour ayder la memoire de ceux qui sont 

amateurs de cet art, par LE PERCHE. Oblong 4^ Paris. 1676, 

Se vand a Paris cbes N. Bonnard, riie St. Jacques, a PAigle. 
Thirty-five copperplates. 
This book is sometimes alluded to by bibliographers as a second or even a third edition. 

Le Maistre d* armes, ou P exercice de Pespee seulle dans sa perfeSiion. Dedie a Monseigneur le 

due de Bourgogne par le sieur DE LIANCOUR. Obi. 4«. Paris. 1 686. 


Les attitudes des figures de ce Iwre ont este posies par k sieur de Liancour et gravies par A, 
Perrelie, A Parisy cbex PauteWy faux-bourgs St. Germain, riie des Boucberies. 

Portrait of Liancour by Langlois, from a pidlure by Monet. Fourteen copperplates out 
of the text. (See alao 1692.) In the Brit. M us. 

LABAT. UartdePEpie, 12**. Toulouse. 1690. 

(See also 1696.) 

'A second edition of D£ LIANCOUR's work (see 1686) was produced in Amsterdam. 

Obi. 4*. 1692. 

MS. Sloane, No. 1198. Folio 40. Twenty-three lines. 

British Museum. Date, about the end of the seventeenth century. 

Vart en fait d*armes^ ou de Pipee settle , avec les attitudes; dedie ^ monseigneur le Comte 

d* ArmaignaCy Grand Ecuyer de France, Wr., par le Sieur LABAT, Maitre en fait d*armes, de la 
viUe et Acadimie de Toulouse. 8^ Toulouse. 1696* 

Chex J. Boudey imprimeur du Roy, des Estats de la Province de Languedoc, Wr., tfr. Se 
dibitent cbez Pauteur, prex les Jacobins, 

Twelve copperplates by Simonin, out of the text. 

(See also 1690.) 

Questions sur Part en fait d*armes, ou de Pipie, dedie h numseigneur le due de Bourgogne, par le 

Sieur LABAT, Maitre au dit Art de la Ville et Acadimie de Toulouse. 4**. Toulouse. 1 701 . 
Cbez, M, G, Roberty maitre-h^arts et imprimeur a la riie Sainte Ursule, Avec Permission, Se 
dibitent cbez PAutbeur. 

VArt de tirer des Armes, riduit en abregi mitbodique, Didie i monseigneur le Maricbal due de 

Filleroy par J. DE BRYE, Maistre en fait d'armes. 8^ Paris. 1721. 

Cbez C, L. Tbibousty imprimeur juri de PUniversite de Paris ; place de Cambrai* Avec appro* 
bation et privilege du Roy, 

Frontispiece and a medallion portrait of the Dauphin. 

^A second edition of DE BRYE's work (see 1721) was published in Paris. I73l* 

Nouveau Traiti de la PerfeiHon sur le fait des armes, didie au Roiy par le Sieur P. J. F. 

GIRARD, ancien officier de marine, Enseignant la mani}re de combattre^ de Pipie de pointe seule, toute 
les gardes etrangiresy Pespadon, les piques, ballebardes, etc, tels quails sepratiquent aujourd^bui dans Part 
miUtaire de France. Omi de figures en taille douce. Oblong 4^ Paris. 1736-7. 

Frontispiece and 1 16 copperplates, out of the text, engraved by Jacques de Favanne. In 
the Brit. Mus. 



Li Maistre iTarmes^ ost rabrege de Pexerdce di Pipee^ par le siiur MARTIN, Mmstre en fait 

i^armes de P Academe de Strasbourg. Ome dt figures en tmUe'-dauce, I2^ Strasbourg. 1737. 
Cbex Pauteur, au Foil des Marecbaux, 
Sixteen copperplates, out of the text. 
Approbation of the professed masters of Paris. 

A second edition of the work of LE PER CHE (see 1676) was published by one of his 
descendants in Paris. Oblong 4^ 1750. 

With the addition of five places. 
Chez la veuve Cbereau, 

In the second edition of DE CHEVIGNY*s Science des persannes de cour et d*epeey which 

appeared in Amsterdam, 1752, there is one chapter dedicated to fencing (tome vii., chap, x.), 
containing eight folded copperplates. In the Brit. Mus. i z®. 

Prtncipes et quintessence des armes, Dedie ^ S. A. Jean-Theodore^ due des DeuX'Bavieres^ 

cardinal de la sainte Eglise rwiMUy eveque et prince de Liege^ etCy par GERARD GORDINE, 
capitdne et maitre en fait d^ armes, 4^ Li^e. 1754. 

Chex S. Bourguignon, imprimeur de la noble Cite, rue Neuvice. Avec privilege de sa Serenis' 
sime Eminence, 

Twenty copperplates, out of the text, by Jacoby. 

L*escrime pratique ou principes de la science des armes par DANIEL O'SULLIVAN, fflwx/r^ 

en fait d*armes des Academies du Roi, 8^ Paris. 1765. 

Chez Sebastien Jorry^ imprimeur-librmre^ rue^ et vis-a-vis, la Comedie Francaise, au grand 
Monarque. ^ 

Vart des armes, ou la mani}re la plus certmne de se servir utilement dePepee, soitpour attaquer, sdt 
pour se defendre, simpBfiee et demontree dans toute son etendue et sa perfeSim, smvant les meilleurs principes 
de tbiorie et de pratique adoptes aSuellement en France, Ouvrage necessaire et lajeune noblesse^ aux 
miUt aires et h ceux qui se destinent au service du Roy, aux personnes meme qui, par la distinSion de leur 
hat ou par leurs cbarges, sont obligees de porter Pepee ; et a ceux qui veulent fdre profession des armes, 
Dedii i son altesse Monseigneur le Prince de Conty, 

Par M. DA NET, Ecw^er, Syndic Garde des Ordres de la Compagnie des Mmtres en fait d^ armes 
des Academies du Roienla Villeet Faubourgs de Paris, %\ Paris. 1766. 

Tome second, contenant la refutation des critiques et la suite du meme Traite, 

8*. Paris. 1767. 
Prix des deux volumes: 12 £vres, relies, Avec approbation et privilege du Roy, 
Frontispiece and forty-three copperplates, out of the text, engraved by Taraval from 
designs by Vaxeill^re. In the Brit. Mus. and South Kens. 

'Observations sur le traite de Part des Armes, pour servir de defense a la verite des principes 


ensiigtth par ks Maitris iTArmes de Paris par M. * ^ ^ (LA BOESSII^RE), Maitn d*Arms 
des Acadhms du Rffi, au nam di sa Compagme. 8^ Paris. 1766. 

Traiti d$ PArt des Arms, par DE LA BOESSIERE. 8^ Paris. 1 766 (?). 

La tbiorie pradqiu de Pescrime^ pour la pointi seule^ avec des remarques pour Passaut par 

BATTIER. I a**. Paris. 1770. 

La Tbiorie pratique de PEscritne pour la pointe seule^ avec des remarques instru^ives pour Passaut it 

les moyens d^y parvenir par gradation. Dedie A. S. A. S. Monseigneur le Due de Bourbon par le sieur 
BATIER. 8^ Paris. 1772. 

A Paris, de Pimprimerie de la veuve Simon et JUsy imprimeurs^librdres de LL. A A. SS.le 
Prince de Conde et le due de Bourbon, et de P Arcbeveebe, Rue des Matburins, L*auteur demeure rue 
de la Coutellerie, maison de Madame Nivelle, vis-a-vis de M. Miret, marcband de vins du Roi, quartier 
de la Gr}ve, Le prix est de 30 sols^ brocbe, et se vend ebez Cbarles de PoiHy, Ubraire, qum de Gevre, 
au Soleil dW, 

One engraving, drawn by Janinet. 

Uart de vdncre par Pepee, dedie ^ messieurs les Gardes-du-Corps du Roi, de la Compagnie de 

Noailles, par M, C. NAVARRE, Maitre d^armes de la premiere Compagnie de la Maison du Roi* 
Prix: 2^ sols. 18®. Paris. 1775. 

A Paris, cbez les libraires du Palais- Royal et du quai de Gesvres ; a Versailles, cbex les 
Hbraires de la galerie des Princes, Avec approbation de la Compagnie, 

'Maximes et instru^ions sur Part de tirer des armes, par le Cbevalier DE FREVILLE. 

8®. Petersbourg. 1775. 

-Reproduced in Lcipsig. 8®. iJl^* 

Nouveau traite de Part des armes, dans lequelon itab&t les principes certains de cet art, et ou Pon 

enseigne les moyens les plus simples de les mettre en pratique. Ouvrage necessaire aux personnes qui se 

destinent aux armes, et utile a celles qui veulent se rappeler les principes qtion leur a enseignes ; avec des 

figures en taUle-douce. Par M. NICOLAS DEMEUSE, Garde- du-Corps de S. A. S, k Prince- 

Eveque a Liege, et Maitre en fdt d^ armes. 12®. Li^ge. 1778. 

Cbex Desoer, imprimeur, sur le pont d^Isle, et cbez Pauteur derrihe le Palais. 

Fourteen copperplates, out of the text. 

^A second edition of NICOLAS DEMEUSE's work (see 1778) was published by 

Desoer in Liege. l2^ 1786. 
VArt des Armes, ou Pon donne Papplication de la tbeorie a la pratique de cet Art, avec les 

principes metbodiques adopt is dans nos Ecoles Royales d^ Armes, 

Ouvrage aussi utile que necessaires .... etc. (Sec i '](>^^ 


Par M. DANET, E^uyer, Syndic-Garde des Ordres de la Compagme des Maitres en /ait i^Armes 
des Academies du Roi en la ViUe et Fauxbourgs de Paris^ aujourd^bm DireSeur de PEcoU Royale 
d'Armes. 8^ Paris. 1787. 

Avec approbation et privilege du Roi, 

In "the year vi. of the Republic," B^lin, rue St. Jacques, reproduced the work of 

DANET in Paris. Two vols. 8*. 1798. 


A third edition of DE FREVILLE's Maxims was published in Leipsig. 8^ I799- 

A third edition of NICOLAS DEMEUSE's work (see 1786) was issued from the 

Imprimerie de Blocquel, in Lille and Paris. 1 2^ 1 800. 

The plates, the same in number, are different in character. To the original text is 
added a Diffionnaire de I'Art des Armes. 


GIACOMO DI GRASSI, bis true Arte of Defence, flamlie teaching by infallable Demon- 
strations y apt Figures y andperfeS Rules the manner and forme how a man^ without other Teacher or 
master may safeUe handle all sortes of Weapons as well offensive as defensive, With a treatise of Disceit 
or Falsinge : and with a waie or meane by private industrie to obtaine Strength, Judgment and ASivitie, 

First written in Italian by the foresaid Author, and Englished by J, G. gentleman. 

Printed at London for J. G, and are to be sold within Temple Barre at the sign of the Hand 
and Starre. 4^ London. 1 594. 

In the Bodl. 

VINCENTIO SA VIOLO. His praBise, in two bookes ; the first intreaHng of the use of the 

Rapier li Dagger, the second of honour and honourable quarrels. 4^ London. IS95* 

Printed by John Wolfe. 

Dedicated to the Earl of Essex. 

Six woodcuts, in the text. In the Brit. Mus. and Bodl. 

GEORGE SILVER, {Gentleman). Paradoxe of Defence, wherein is proved the true ground 

of fight to be in the short auncient weapons, and that the Short Sword hath the advantage of the long 
sword or long rapier, and the weaknesse and imperfeSim' of the rapier fight Splayed, Together with 
an admonition to the noble, ancient, viSorious, valiant and most brave nation of Englishmen, to beware 
of false teachers of defence and how they forsake their own naturall fights ; with a brief commendation 
of the noble science or exercising of arms, 8*. London. 1 599. 

In the Brit. Mus. and Bodl. 

Mars His Feild or The Exercise of Armes, wherein in lively figures is shewn the Right use and 

perfeS manner of Handling the Buckler, Sword and Pike. With the wordes of Command and Brefe 
ipstruRions correspondent to every Posture. 


And are to be sold by Roger Daniell at the Angel in Lombard Streete, 

I2^ London. 1611. 
Sixteen copperplates, with explanatory legends. No text. In the Bodl. 

The Scboole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence. Being the first of any English- 
mans invention f which professed the sayd Science s So plainly described that any man may quickly 
come to the true knowledge of their weapons with small paines and little praSlise, 

Then reade it advisedly ^ and use the benefit thereof when occasion shal serve^ so shalt thou be a 
good Common-wealth man^ live happy to thy selfe and comfortable to thy friend. 

Also many other good and profitable Precepts for the managing of Quarrels and ordering thy 
selfe in many other matters. Written by JOSEPH SWETNAM. 4*. London. 161 7. 

Printed by Nicholas Okes. 

Dedicated to Charles, Prince of Wales. 

This treatise bears great resemblance to that of Saviolo. Seven woodcuts. In the Bodl. 

Pallas armata : the gentlemar^s armor ie, wherein the right and genuine use of the rapier and the 

sword is displaied, 12^ London. 1639. 

MS. British Museum, Additional^ No. 5540. Folios 122-123. 

The names ofyT Pushes as they are to be learned gradually. 

Date, middle of the seventeenth century. 

The shield single agamst the sword double, by HENRY NICCOU. 

4*. London. 1653 (?) 

Scots Fencing Master, or Compleat smaU^swordman, in which is fully Described the whole Guards, 

Parades and Lessons belonging to the Small- Sword, etc. (See 1692.) 

By W. H. Gent. %\ Edinburgh. 1687. 

Printed by John Reid, 

Twelve copperplates, out of the text. 

The Sword-Matfs Vade^Mecum^ or a preservative against the surprize of a sudden attaque with 

Sharps. Being a Redu&ion of the most essential, necessary and practical part of Fencing; into a few 
special R ules. With their R easms : which all S word- Men should have in their Memories when they are to 
Engadge; but more especially if it be with Sharps. 

With some other Remarques and Observations, not unfit to be known, by W. H., Gentleman 
(William Hope). 12^ Edinburgh. 1691. 

Pointed by John Reid. 

The Compleat Fencing- Master: in which is fully Described the whole Guards, Parades and 

Lessons, belonging to the Small- Sword, as also the best Rules for Playing against either Artists or others, 
with Blunts or Sharps. Together with Dire Rims how to behave in a single Combat on Horse-back: 
illustrated with figures Engraven on Copper-plates, representing the most necessary Postures. The Second 

By SIR W. HOPE, Kt. (See 1687.) %\ London. 1692. 


Lmdany Printed for Dorman Newman^ at the Kin^s-Arms m the Poultrij. 
Twelve copperplates, out of the text. 

This book, with a different title, is in every other resped a reproduction of the Scots 
Fencing Master. (See 1687.) 

A second edition of the Stoord-matfs Fade Mecum (see 1691) by SIR WILLIAM 

HOPE, Kt., appeared in London. 8^ 1694. 

Printed and are to he sold by J. Tailor^ at the Ship in St, PauPs Cburcb^yard and S. Holford 
at the Crovm in the Pall Mall. 

The title of the second edition only shows a little difference in the spelling. Tn the 
Brit. Mus. 

The EngRsb Fencing Master ^ or the Compleat Tutor of the Small- Sword. Wherein the truest 

Method^ after a Mathematical Rule, is plainly laid down. Shewing also how necessary it is for all 
Gentlemen to learn this Noble Art. In a Dialogue between Master and Scholar. Adonfd with 
several curious postures. i[y HENRY BLACKWELL. 4*. London. 1705. 

(See also 1730.) 

Printed for F. Sprint , at the Blue Belly in Little Britain; and H. Montgommery, at the Looking 
Glass in Comhill, near the Royal Exchange. 

Five woodcuts, in the text. Twenty-four copperplates, out of the text, folded. 

Dedicated to C. Tryon, Esq., of Bullick, Northants. In the South Kens, and Brit. Mus. 

A NeWy Short and Easy Method of Fencing: or the Art of the Broad and Small Sword, 

ReQified and Compendiv^d, wherein the Practice of these two weapons is reduced to so few and general 
Rules, that any Person of indifferent Capacity and ordinary Agility of Body, may, in a very short time, 
attain tOy not only a sufficient Knowledge of the Theory of this arty but also to a considerable Adroitness 
in P raff ice, either for the Defence of his lifiy upon a just Occasion^ or preservation of his Reputation 
and Honour in any Accidental Scuffle, or Trifiing Quarrel. 

By SIR WILLIAM HOPE OF BALCOMIE, Baronet, Late Deputy- Governour of the 
Castle of Edinburgh. 4«. Edinburgh. 1707. 

" Gladiatura, non solum ad Honoris, Vitaqui Cmservationem ; sedetiamat Corporis, atque Anima 
Relaxationem, per quam necessarian^ 

Printed by James WatsoUy in Grains Closs, on the north-side of the Cross. 

One large folded sheet containing sixteen figures engraved on copper. 

The English Master of Defence or the Gentlematfs Al-a-mode Accomplishment. Containing 
the Trite Art of Single- Rapier or Small Swordy withal the curious Parres and many more than the 
vulgar Terms of Art plainly eocprest; with the Names of every particular Pass and the true performance 
thereof; withal the exquisite Ways of Disarming and Enclosing, and all the Guards at Broad-Sword 
and Quarter-Staff, perfeSly demonstrated i shewing how the Blows, Strokes, Chops, Throws, Flirts, 
Slips and Darts are performed; with the true Method of Traveling. Also etc. etc. 

The like was never PuhlisVt before by any Man in England but by ZACH. WYLDfi. 

Printed by John White, for the Author. 8^ York. 1 7 1 1 . 


Hopis New Method of Fencings or the True and Solid Art of Fighting with the Back-Sword, 

Sheering' Sword^ Small-Sword^ and Sword and Pistol; freed from the Errors of the Schools, 

Wherein the Defence and Pursuit of these Weapons, both on Foot and a Horseback^ and that against 
all kind of Edged or Pointed Weapons whatsoever, are not only compendia d and redu^dtofew and general 
Rules, that . . . etc, (See 1707.) 

But also the nicest Theory of the whole Art is so interspersed with these most easy and useful Rules, 
that it will at once instruS the greatest Ignorant, and gratify the most Critical and Curious Artist. So 
that it may be asserted that, by this new Method, the Art of defence with the Sword akne is, by 
Mathematical Demonstration, brought to the utmost perfeSion Humane Nature is capable of: and that this 
assertion is in no ways vain or Chimerical { the Author is ready to deffend the samCy either by Argument 
or PraSice^ before any Two understanding Sword-men^ against any Fencing Master who shall impugn it. 

Second edition. 


" Gladiatura non solum, etc, etc^ 4*. Edinburgh. 1 7 14. 

Printed by James Watson . , . etc., etc. (sec 1705). Sold by Geo, Strahan, at the Golden 
Ball, over against the Royal Exchange in Comhill, 

•A Vindication of the True Art of Self' Defence, with a proposal, to the Honourable Members of 

P arBament, for ere^ng a Court of Honour in Great Britain, 

Recommended to all Gentlemen, but particularly to the Soldiery, To which is added a Short but 
very Useful Memorial for Sword Men, 

-flfySIR WILLIAM HOVE, Baronet, late Deputy-Govemour of Edinburgh-Castle, 

8®. Edinburgh. 1724. 

" Certamen festinantium incendit Ignem Et Us festinans effundit Sanguinem. Magno Ingenio turpe 
non est, sed honorifcum Errorem fateri simpliciter,^ 

Printed by William Brown and Company, 

The same plate that is contained in the work published by Sir W. Hope in 1 707, and 
frontispiece, representing the badge Gladiatorum Scoticorum, In the Brit. Mus. 

Observations on the Gladiators^ Stage- Fightings by SIR WILLIAM HOPE, Baronet, etc. 

8^ London. 1725. 

The expert sword- Man* s companion: or the True Art of self defence^ with an account of the 

Author^ s life and his transaSions during the wars with France, To which is annexed the art of 
gwmene, 5^ DONALD McBANE. \z\ Glasgow. 1728. 

Printed by James Duncan^ and are to be sold at his shop in the Salt-Market, near Gibsor^s 

Portrait of McBane, and twenty-two plates, out of the text. 

A second edition of SIR WILLIAM HOPE's Vindication, etc. (sec 1724), was printed 

and sold by W. Meadowes, at the Angel in Comhill, in London. 8^ 1729. 

Same plate and frontispiece. 
Dedicated to the Right Honourable Robert Walpole, 


The Art of Fencingy as praSHsed by Monsieur VALDIN. Most humbly dedicated to bis Grace 

the duke of Montagu. 8*. London. 1 7 29. 

Printed for J. Parker in Pall Mall. In the Brit. Mus. 

H. B. (HENRY BLACK WELL) (sec also 1705). The Gentleman's Tutor for the SmaU 

Stoord; or the CompUat English Fencing Master. 

Containing the truest and plainest rules for learning that noble Art / shewing hozo necessary it is 
for all gentlemen to understand the same in l^ various lessons between Master and Scholar. Adorned 
with several curious postures. Small 4**. London. 1730. 

Printed for J. li T. W. and Sold by T. Jackson at St. James : A. Dodd, without Temple Bars 
and E. Nutty under the Royal Exchange, Price is. 

Six woodcuts. In the Bodl. 

The Art of Fencingy or the Use of the Small Sword. Translated from the French of the late 

celebrated Monsieur L'ABBAT, Master of that Art at the Academy of Toulouse^ by Andrew Mahon, 
Professor of the Small Sword. ^ 12**. Dublin. 1734. 

Printed by James Hoey, at the sign of Mercury in Skinner Row. 

Twelve copperplates, out of the text. In the Brit. Mus. 

^A second edition of Mahon's translation of L'ABBAT's work (see France, 1696) 

appeared in London. I2^ 1735* 

Printed by Richard WeWngtWy at the Dolphin and Crown, without Temple Bar. 

A treatise on fencing by Captain J. MILLER, in the shape of an album of fifteen 

copperplates, engraved by Scotin, with one column of text. Folio. 1738. 
A Treatise upon the useful Science of Defence, conneSing the Small and Back- Sword, and shewing 

the Affinity between them. Likewise endeavouring to weed the Art of those superfluousy unmeaning 
P radices which over-run ity and choke the true Principlesy by reducing it to a narrow Compass, and 
supporting it with Mathematical Proofs. Also an Examination into the Performances of the most 
Noted Masters of the Back-Swordy who have fought upon the Stagey pointing out their Faults y and 
allowing their AbiUties. With some Observations upon Boxingy and the Characters of the most able 
Boxersy within the Author* s Time. 

By Capt. JOHN GODFREY. 4*. London. 1747. 

Printed for the Author, by T. Gardnery at Cowlefs Head opposite St. Clements Church in the 

-An album of copperplates representing various attitudes in fencing. 

Oblong 4^ Date about 1750. 

VEcole des Armesy avec P explication generale des principaks attitudes et positions concernant 


De£ee a Leurs Altesses Royales ies Princes Gidllaume-Henrj et Henrys Frederic par M. 
ANGELO. Oblong folio. Londrcs. 1763. 

J Londres, cbez R. y J. DodsJey, Pall Mall, 
Forty-seven copperplates, out of the text. In the Brit. Mus. and South Kens. 

A second edition of M. ANGELO's work (see 1763), containing the same plates, but 

with two columns of text, in French and English, was printed by S. Hooper in London. 

In the Bodl. Oblong folio. 1765. 


^A third edition of M. ANGELO's work (see 1763) appeared in London. 

Oblong folio. 1767- 

The Fencer^ s Guides being a Series of every branch required to compose a Complete System of 

Defence^ Whereby the Admirers of Fencing are gradually led from the First Rudiments of that Art, 
through the most complicated Subtilties yet formed by imagination, or applied to practice, until the Lesson, 
herein many ways varied, also lead them insensibly on to the due Meihods of Loose Play^ which are here 
laid down, with every Precaution necessary for that PraSiice. 

In four parts. 

Part I and II contains such a general explanation of the Small Sword as admits of much greater 
Variety and Novelty than are to be found in any other work of this kind. 

Part III shews, in the Use of the Broad Sword, such an universal Knowledge of that 
Weapon, as may be very applicable to the Use of any other that a Man can lawfully carry in his hand. 

Part IV is a compound of the Three former, explaining and teaching the Cut and Thrust^ or 
Spadroon Play, and that in a more subtile and accurate manner than ever appeared in Print. 

And to these are added Particular Lessons for the Gentlemen of the Horse, Dragoonsy and Light 
Horse, or Hussars, with some necessary Precautions and an Index, explaining every term of that Art 
throughout the book. 

The Whole being carefully coUeHedfrom long Experience and Speculation, is calculated as a Vade- 
Mecumfor Gentlemen of the Army, Navy, Universities, &*c. 

By A. LONNERGAN. Teacher of the Military Sciences. 

Hie fuvenis punHim, Caesimque docentur ab arte 

PeUere bellipotens Crimen et Ense Tegi. 8®. London. 177 1-2. 

Printed for the Author, and sold by W. Griffin, in Catharine Street. 

Fencing Familiarized, or a new treatise on the Art of Sword Play. Illustrated by Elegant 

Engravings, representing all the different Attitudes in which the Principles and Grace of the Art depend; 
painted from life and executed in a most elegant and masterly manner. 

By Mr. OLIVIER ; Educated at the Royal Academy of Paris, and Professor of Fencing, in 
St. Dunstan*s Court, Fleet Street. 

Sine Regsda, sine DeleSfatione. 8°. London. 177 1-2. 

Printed for John Bell, near Exeter Change in the Strand, and C. Hetherington, dt York. 

Facing the above title is its exadi translation into French. The text is in both 

Frontispiece and eight folded plates, engraved by Ovenden. In the South Kens. 



A second edition of OLIVIER's work (see 1 771-2), dedicated to the Earl of Harrington, 

was J)ublished by J. Bell, in the Strand. 8°. London. 1780. 

Same frontispiece as in the first edition, but the plates are different, being drawn by J. 
Roberts, and engraved by D. Jinkins, Goldar, W. Blake, and C. Grignon. 

The Army and Navy Gentleman's Companion; or a New and Complete Treatise on the Theory 

and PraSHce of Fencings displaying the Intricacies of Small Sword Play^ and reducing the Art to the 
most Easy and Familiar Principles by regular progressive Lessons. 

Illustrated by Mathematical Figures and Adorned with elegant Engravings after paintings from 
Life, executed in the most masterly Manner^ representing every material Attitude of the Art, 

By J. McARTHUR, of the Royal Navy. Large 4^ London. 1780-1. 

Content if hence th^ Unlearned their wants may view. 
The learned reflet on what before they knew. 

{Popis Essay on Crit.) 
Printed for James Lavers, No. 10, Strand. 

Frontispiece, engraved by J. Newton from a drawing by Jas. Sowerby, and eight plates, 
drawn by the author, and engraved by Jas. Newton. 

Another edition of McARTHUR's work was printed for J. Murray^ No. 32 Fleet Street. 

4^ London. 1784. 
Dedicated to John^ Duke of Argyll. In the South Kens. 

The Art of Fencing, or the use of the small Sword. 

Colkaedy revised and enlarged by JAMES UNDERWOOD, of the Custom House. 

Printed by T. Byrne, ParUament-Street. 8^ Dublin. 1787. 

Dedicated to His Grace, Charles, Duke of Rutland. In the Brit. Mus. 

The School of Fencings with a general explanation of the principal attitudes and positions peculiar 

to the Art. 

ify Mr. ANGELO. Oblong 4°. London. 1787. 

Translated by Rowlandson. 

This work of Henry Angclo was translated into French and reproduced, together 
with the plates, under the head " Escrime," by Diderot and D'Alembert in their " Encyclo- 
pedic.*' In the Brit. Mus. 

-Anti' Pugilism, or the Science of Defence exemplified in short and easy lessons, for the praSice of 

the Broad Sword and Single Stick. 

Illustrated with Copper Plates. 

By a Highland Officer. 

Whereby Gentlemen may become Proficients in the use of these Weapons, without the help of a 
Master, and be enabled to Chastise the Insolence and Temerity, so frequently met with, from those 


fasbionabie Gentlemen , the Jobnsonums^ Big BennianSy and Mendozians of the present Day; a Work 
perhaps^ better calculated to extirpate this reigning and brutal Folly than a whole Volume of Sermcns. 

8*. London. 1 790. 

Printed for J. Aitkin^ No, 14, Castle- Street, comer of Bear Street, Leicester Square, 

Entered at Stationer* s Hall, 

Four copperplates, drawn by Cruik shank. In the Brit. Mas. 

Rules and Regulations for the Sword Exercise of Cavalry, 

Royal 8^ London. 1796. 
Twenty-nine folding plates. In the Brit. Mus. and South Kens. 

The Art of Defence on Foot with the Broad Sword and Sabre, uniting the Scotch and Austrian 

Methods, into one regular system. 

To which are added remarks on the Spadroon, 

By C. RO WORTH, of the Royal Westminster Volunteers, The second edition, 

8*^. London. 1798. 

Printed for T, Egerton, at the Military Library^ near Whitehall, In the Brit. Mus. 

Hungarian and Highland Broad Sword, Twenty-four plates, designed and etched by 

T. ROWLANDSON, under the direaion of Messrs, H. AT^ELO and Son, Fencing Masters 
to the Light Horse Volunteers of London and Westminster, dedicated to Colonel Herries, 

Oblong folio. London. 1 798-9. 
Printed by C, Roworth, Bell Yard, Fleet Street, For T, Egerton, at the Military Library, 
near Whitehall, In the Brit. Mus. 

A second edition of Rowlandson's translation of ANGELO's work (see 1787) appeared 

in London. 8*^. 1799. 

Sword Exercise for Cavalry, with 6 engravings, 8®. London. 1 799. 

Cudgel-playing modernised and improved; or the Science of Defence exemplified in a few short 

and easy lessons for the praSiice of the Broad Sword or Single Stick on foot. 

Illustrated with Fourteen Positions. By Capt. SINCLAIR of the 42'' Reg^, 

8°. London. 1800. 

An attentive perusal of this work will qualify the Reader to handle a sword or stick with Grace, 
enable him to correct abuse, repel Attack, and secure himself from unprovoked insult. 

Printed and sold by J, Bailey, 1 16 Chancery Lane, Sold also by Champante and Whitrow, 
Aldgate, Wilmott and Hill, Borough, Lumsden and Sons, Glasgow, 

The Art of Defence on foot with the Broad Sword and Sabre, 

Adapted also for the Spadroon, or cut and thrust sword. 


Itapritvid end augmentid with the ttn hinns of Mr. JOHN TAYLOR, laU Bnedmtrd 
Master « tbt Light Rant Velunteeri ff Lendon and Westminsttr. 

lllastratii with plates by R. K. P»rler Esq. 8°. London. 1 804. 

This ii merely ■ reproduftion of Roworch's book (itt 1798). In the South Kena. 

J treatise c/i the utility and advantages rf fencing, giving the epiniani ef the mut eminent 

Aatbari and Medical Praliitioneri m the important advantages derived from a knnoledge of tbt 
Art as a means of self defence, and a promoter of bealth, illustrated by firtyseven engravings. T» 
ariicb is added a dissertation on the me of the broad sword [teitb six descriptive plates). 

Memoirs of tbe late Mr. Angelo and a biographical sketcb af CbevaBer St. George, mitb bis 

Published by Mr. ANGELO, Bolttn Row, and at bis fencing academy. Old Bond Street. 

Polio. London. 1817. 

Containing tbe same places aa the " Ecole des Armes " of ihe author's father, a portrait 
of St. George, engraved by W. Ward from a piflure by Bronn, and six plates engraved and 
designed by Rowlandson, under the care of Angelo himself, in 1 798-9. 


Practice Rapiers, early seventeenih century, showing the 

hich they w 

|HE title of " Maestro di Scherma " inserted after the author's 
name is a purely honorary distincftion, conferred upon him by the 
courtesy of some Italian fencing- 
I masters under whom he studied 
the peculiarities of their school. 
The Italian mode of fencing retains many 

of the charaderistics of the rapier fence of 

the seventeenth century, and it was the 

author's purpose, before investigating the all 

but forgotten origins of modern fencing, to 

become thoroughly acquainted with the theory 

and praftice of the Neapolitan method, the 

only one which has not been swept away by 

the now ubiquitous French school. 

Nevertheless, this book is not a treatise on 

fencing, and its obje6): is not to fix once more 

the exa(% position of "prime "and "quinte" 

with the foil, nor to prove the possibility of 

always reposting with a thrust after parrying a 

cut with the sabre. It is merely the condensed ^'S- '^J^'iu'Jd GH«td' '^'" 

report of a valuable colledion of old books 

left in the author's care, and of many others since discovered in the British 


Museum and foreign libraries, together with an account of the hves and 
writings of celebrated masters, and of the constitutions of the most important 
fencing societies. 

The author does not profess, however, to analyze closely the contents of 
all the books written on the imperfeft play of our ancestors, nor to trace every 
hnk in the chan of its development^ from the " pancratium " of the fifteenth 
century, in which wrestling and leaping were of more avail than aught else, 
to the courteous and academic " assaut " of modern days, where elegance and 

Fig. 2. — Sbuso e pisntt gotco, from Rmaroll and Gri»tti. 
This tcroke is essentiaily the tame is some " ferite di prima" 
laught by the Italiao mascen of the early seventecDih century. 

precision of movements are more highly considered — or ought to be — than 
superiority in the number of hits. 

Such a work would occupy a lifetime and fill a number of thick 
folios, proving, moreover, quite as useless as those old and ponderous 
•* Fechtbiicher " and " Tratados de la filosofia de las Armas " which have been 
so religiously l^d aside for centuries. 

But, undoubtedly, the want must be felt df some historical account of 
the changes in the management of " the white arm," since the days when 
something more than brute strength became a requisite in personal combat. 
The subjeft is full of interest, not only for the fencer who looks upon 
his ^vourite pastime as a science, but also in a high degree for the 
novelist, the painter, the aftor, and the antiquarian. The amount of miscon- 
ception on the subjeA of ancient sword-play often displayed by some historical 
painters and novelists is truly incredible. Even in the works of eminent 
antiquarians such as Ainsworth and even Walter Scott, very seldom guilty 
of anachronism on any other subjeft, one reads of duels in the seven- 
teenth century, detaiJs of which- arc evidently borrowed from a modern 
fencing school. 

It can be safely asserted that the theory of fencing has reached all but 


absolute perfedion in our days, when the art has become praftically useless. 
Under the reign of scientific police, arms are no longer a necessary part of a 
private gentleman's dress, the absurd habit of duelling has happily disappeared, 
whilst at war, unless it be against savages, more reliance is placed on powder 
than on " cold steel." It seems, theretore, paradoxical that the management 
of the sword should be better understood now than in the days when the 
most peaceable man might be called upon at any time to draw in defence of 
his life. It is probably this notion which induces most authors to introduce 
the refinements of modern sword-play into descriptions of duels between 
" raffines " or *' cavaliers." 

The difficulty, first, of getting at the old authors on sword-play, and 
secondly, when found, of realizing their meaning in the midst of their 
philosophical digressions, seems to have hitherto prevented the investigation 
of the subjeft. A critical examination of the old treatises shows, however, that 
in the heyday of the duelling mania, more reliance was evidently placed on 
agility and " inspiration " than on settled principles. It shows, moreover, 
that most modern ideas of swordsmanship should be dismissed in order to 
realize what a duel with rapiers in t?ie sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries 
really was, and how unlikely if not ludicrous arc the pidturesque descriptions 
of historical novelists. 

Painters must often wish to have some easy means of ascertaining the 
most usual method of wielding rapier and dagger, colichemardes, or small 
sword. Indeed, were those old books of fencing, many of which are easily 
accessible at the British Museum and other great libraries, more often consulted, 
there would be fewer pidures — even by celebrated artists — representing, for 
instance, a cavalier attempting to close his hand round the three-inch grip of 
his rapier, instead of screening it under the guard by locking two fingers 
round the quillons ; or of ** mignons " lunging in the most approved modem 
style and grasping their daggers like stilettos, thumb on pummel, in a manner 
which would have deprived that weapon of any value, defensive or offensive. 

Aftors also, who, in every other case, are most particular about historical 
accuracy, generally dispose of all questions relative to fighting by referring 
them to the first fencing-master at hand ; and accordingly one sees Laertes 
and Hamlet with the utmost sangfroid going through a "salute" which, 
besides being perfedly unmanageable with rapiers, was only established in all 
its details some fifty years ago. There would indeed be less anachronism in 
uncorking a bottle of champagne to fill the king's beaker than there is in 
Hamlet corredly lunging, reversing his point, saluting carte and tierce, &c. — 
foil fencing, in fad — in spite of the anticipation raised by Osric's announce- 
ment that the bout should be played with rapier and dagger.* 

^ The introduflion in the play of rapier and dagger at the Danish Court during the 
Middle Ages is, of course, no less an anachronism than that of a small sword bout in the per- 


Again, in " Romeo and Juliet " : — 

He tilts 
With piercing steel at bold Mcrcutio's breast ; 
Who, all as hot, turns deadly point to point, 
And, with a martial scorn, with one band beats 
Cold death aside, and with the other sends 
It back to Tybalt, whose dexterity 
Retorts it.* 

It really seems that a single passage like this (and many such occur in 
the Elizabethan dramatists), might have suggested the probability of a rapier 
fight being a very different thing indeed from a modern fencing bout, though 
certainly not less exciting. 

The antiquarian, on his side, will find in the study of swordsmanship 
the explanation of all the changes in the shapes of guards and blades, and of 
the differentiation of the sword from the old plain cross- hiked Teutonic 
" Schwert," through the complicated cut-and-thrust rapier, into either the 
light triangular small sword or the solid §at sabre. 

But it is to the keen swordsman who looks upon foil fencing as the key 
to all hand to hand fighting, that the historical development of the art offers 
naturally the greatest interest. It shows him how many generations of 
praftical men were required to elucidate the principles of fencing, and adapt 
them in the most perfe<5t way to the mechanical resources of the human 
anatomy, and how utterly unknown many of those principles, which are now 
looked upon as the A B C of sword-play, were still, in the proudest days of 
the sword's reign. 

The sword is now truly a thing of the past, and elaborate swordsman- 
ship can only be looked upon as a superior kind of pastime, combining 
mental excitement and bodily exercise — the excitement of a game of skill 
not entirely independent of chance, together with the delight, innate in all 
healthy organizations, of strife and destruftion — and an exercise necessitating 
the utmost nervous and muscular tension while it aflFords the refined pleasure 
of rhythmical aftion. But in days gone by the sword was indeed part of the 
man, and the skilful use thereof, on most occasions, of more import than a 
good cause. It has often been said that a history of the sword would be a 
history of humanity, since the latter has ever been a chain of struggles be- 
tween nations and men ultimately decided by violence. Similarly, it will be 
found that the changes in the modes of fencing at diflFerent periods correspond 
in a general way to the changes in manners. 

formance, but if the afior's part be to carry out the author's ideas, it is certainly a wonder 
that greater care should never have been bestowed on that scene. 
' A&. iii., sc. I. 


The rough untutored fighting of the Middle Ages represented faithfully 
the reign of brute force in social life as well as in politics. The stoutest 
arm and the weightiest sword won the day, even as did the sturdiest baron 
or the most warlike king. Those were the days of crushing blows with 
mace or glaive, when a knight's superiority in aftion depended on his power 
of wearing heavier armour and dealing heavier blows than his neighbour, 
when strength was lauded more than skilly and minstrels sang of enchanted 
blades that nought could break. 

Later on, after the Renascence, when life was taken more easily, the de- 
pressing armour was discarded in the private walks of life. The discovery 
of a greater variety of interests and pleasures induced men to lead a more 
aftive existence, and they began to walk where before they had ridden in 
state, reduced the dimensions of their ancestor's sword, and, as the harness of 
war was now only worn in the camps, came to rely on their agility and cun- 
ning to make up for the scantier protection of cloak or hand buckler. In- 
stead of " down right blowes," they devised a multitude of wily attacks, and, 
in the absence of any very definite mode of self-defence (which had yet to 
be invented), everyone indulged irt as much fantasy in his sword-play as his 
individual energy allowed him to carry out. The prevailing idea was the 
discovery of a " botte secrete " and a " universal parry," which was to the 
fencer of those times what the philosopher's stone was to the alchemist or 
the Eldorado to the mariner. Those were the days of the " Rapier" and of 
the companion of its infancy, the dagger. It corresponds in charafter to the 
Elizabethan, and, later on, to the "Cavalier" period, often so called in 
France in contradistindion to the preceding and more "knightly" age. 
The rapier was as elegant and vicious as its ancestor was sturdy and brutal, 
its pradice as fantastic as the prevailing taste in speech and literature and 
notions of the outer world. 

Afterwards when, in private life, the habit of fighting gradually 
diminished, and in war firearms came into more general use, the sword lost 
much of its importance. In the days of the ^ Grand Monarque," and after 
the Restoration, it became chiefly an article of dress, for gentlemen only, — 
like the periwig, — and swordsmanship a courtly accomplishment ranking 
much in the same category as dancing. A gentleman was then no longer of 
necessity a soldier, consequently his sword was essentially a " dress sword." 
From this period dates the absolute distinftion between the court and the 
military sword, both derived from the rapier, while during the process of 
evolution many leading principles of fencing, applicable to either weapon, 
were discovered and praftically tested. 

Through the whole of the eighteenth century, the use of the small sword 
was carefully and almost exclusively cultivated, and the refinements introduced 
were in due course applied to the other weapons. That was the birth-time 


of our modern swordsmanship, correA^ precise, and elegant^ and none the less 
efFeftive for being less flowery than the rapier-play. 

Here, again, it is noticeable how the manner of using the sword in that 
century refledls some of its chief features. The light, elegant small sword, 
managed by the wrist and with a comparatively small expenditure of strength, 
though, at the same time, if anything, even more deadly than the rapier, seems, 
in truth, a fit weapon wherewith to settle quarrels between bewigged, berufFed, 
and bepowdered gentlemen, in a courteous and highly refined manner. 

Small sword fencing, with its simplified guards, correA attitudes, and 
regular movements, is obviously charafteristic of the age which appreciated 
the polished and precise style of Addison, Pope, and Hume, just as the 
wild, impulsive, and imaginative rapier and dagger play, tallies, in our 
minds, with the involved and hyperbolical speech of Elizabeth and James's 

The habit of wearing swords in private life, which had become 
common throughout Europe since the beginning of the wars of religion, 
went out soon after the French Revolution. The consequence was a 
very rapid diminution in the number of duels with the sword.^ The 
fashion went out first in England, and one may say, perhaps, that such a 
thing as a duel with swords has not taken place between Englishmen since 
the beginning of this century. On the Continent the practice is still kept 
up, but in a very desultory manner, and even in France, the once 
classical land of duellists, fencing is now looked upon merely as a national 

One of the results of negleding the idea that the foil is but a light 
substitute for a sword, has been the introduftion into foil fencing of 
complicated attacks and parries, which are really only pradticable with 
featherweight foils, and would defeat their own ends if attempted with any 
other weapon. 

The variety and complication which can be displayed by two expert 
fencers gives rise to the necessity of a code, based on theoretical reasoning 
and on the calculation of probabilities, settling the value of hits in case of 
double hits. Such a thing as a double hit in praAical fencing ought not to 
count as really good on either side, the whole art when reduced to its lowest 
dimension being, as Moliere says, ** Tart de donner et de ne pas recevoir." 

Lightness apart, it is obvious that things are done with a foil which 
would never be attempted in earnest with a sword. Since the "science of 
the sword " has*become really the science of the foil, the best fencers have 

^ A shadow of the old-fashioned mania of *' coming to the point " on matters of trivial 
importance has been kept up at the German universities, although the danger to life and limb 
was greatly diminished, some forty years ago, by substituting for the old rapier fence 
the present Schlaegcr play, with all its restridlions. 


indulged in a play which is artificial, though (when the above-mentioned 
code relative to hits is closely adhered to) much more perfeft. Foil 
praftice may in fa<5b be looked upon as " diagrammatic " fencing, freed of 
most extraneous, disturbing elements.^ 

In our days it is an art that men can do without, and which indeed 
most men negled): altogether, at least in our country. But those who do, at 
any time, devote serious attention to fencing, never seem to lose their taste 
for it. It is one of those exercises which depend on the cultivation of 
exaft principles from the beginning. Old age may creep on the fencer and 
diminish the vigour of his limbs and the elasticity of his wrist, but that is amply 
compensated for, in most cases, by the increased coolness and precision 
which come of long years of praftice. On the other hand, if, trusting to his 
youth and agility, the beginner does not start by drilling himself into 
correft adion — ^which admits of all but infinite variety — he will never -get 
beyond a few favourite attacks and parries, which may, however, by constant 
praAice, be performed with intense vigour and rapidity. But as his 
physical power fails, instead of reaping the benefit of praAice, he becomes 
less and less dangerous to his opponents, and ends by accusing his years 
and giving up an exercise which might have delighted him to his last days. 

The disappointing results of unmethodical fencing are mentioned here 
to explain how it was that the art so long remained stationary. It will be 
seen that during the whole of the sixteenth century every other master 
advocated a diflFerent system, consisting of his own favourite tricks. It was 
only when a sufiicient number of schools had been formed^ and their tenets 
set forth by a sufficient number of treatises, that any definite basis to the 
art of swordsmanship became universally recognized. On those foundations, 
laid some two hundred years ^o by Fabris, Giganti, and Capo Ferro, the 
science — now so complete — was built by degrees. 

Assuming, on the one hand, that the theory of fencing has long since 
reached its culminating point, and, on the other, that its broad principles 
apply to every kind of hand to hand fight, with any variety of piercing, 
crushing, or cutting weapons, and with either one or both hands, a general 
and elastic statement of those broad principles will not be out of place 

' Of course rebated swords and foils have been in use for centuries, but they always 
stood for swords^ sword play was the obje6l, and few things were attempted with ''blunts" 
that would not be of practical use with '' sharps." In our days, however, foil play alone is 
generally the objed. 

' As it was mentioned before, this is not a treatise of fencing. In order, however, 
to be able to criticise old-fashioned books, generally lacking in explicit technical terms, 
and often treating of weapons now obsolete, it will be well to lay down definitions which 
apply broadly to all fencing weapons and which will translate the involved and fantastic 
expressions of the ancient masters. 


A historical sketch of the development of the art can only touch on the 
most leading principles, but these are quite sufficient for the purpose, as every 
style depends on the combination and application of some or ali of them. 

In such a study, although noticing the practice of very different weapons, 
foil fencing may be taken as the obje<5tive, although it represents by no means 
a fight with any other form of the " arme blanche." 

But, as was said before, the very elaborateness of its pradtice renders it 
capable of illustrating all the principles applicable, in various proportions, to 
other weapons.* 

There is more variety of play between two weapons of the same kind 
than between dissimilar ones ; many more aftions are possible, for instance, with 
two sabres than with sabre against bayonet, with two small swords than 
between small and broad swords ; therefore, in the enumeration of the funda- 
mental faftors of the art of fence, it will suffice to consider the rules of sword 
fencing as comprising all others.* 

The ** time, distance, and proportion " of the early Anglo-Italian masters 
of the sixteenth century are still as much as ever the first notions to be grasped. 
They are now called " time," " measure," and " guard." The very first 
principle of all fencing is obviously to keep the proper ** measure," namely, to 
keep out of easy reach when on the defensive, and, conversely, never to 
deliver an attack without being within striking distance. This principle, 
which savours somewhat of a truism, is, however, much neglefted by 
impetuous and inexperienced fencers. The method of gaining ground, of 
increasing and decreasing the measure in single combat, is consequently an 
important point to be noticed among ancient authors. Indeed, our perfe(% 
method of lunging and recovering, and only taking such steps as will preserve 
the same relative position of the feet and body as when on guard, was the 
last point to be fixed by masters. 

The next principle is to keep proper " time," namely, first, to reduce the 

^ The duelling sword approaches very nearly to the foil in point of perfection, although 
any attempt to introduce the complicated play of the latter into a duel would probably be 
suicidal. The spadroon, or old-fashioned cut-and- thrust sword, lighter than our sabre and 
heavier than the duelling sword, allowed of still less variety. The broadsword and cutlass, 
again more ponderous and unwieldy, offer comparatively simple play, and as to the cavalry 
sabre, the lance, and the bayonet, their possible adlions are even more restricted in number. 
In the case of some specialized ways of fencing, such as the old English *' cudgelling'' or 
'' back swording,'' or the German student's '* schlaeger,*' the question of distance or measure 
becomes of no importance. With the Spanish ** navaja " and the South American '* machete ** 
most of the art depends on ''timing." 

' Readers happening to be unacquainted with the usual fencing terms, will easily find 
them in any modern treatise on the art. Mr. G. Chapman's small but comprehensive work 
on '' Foil Fencing " is perhaps the best of that description written in the English language. 
The same may be said of Mr. Waite's and Captain Burton's treatises on the broadsword. On 
bayonet exercise there is an excellent work by Captain Hutton. 


motions of weapon and body to the striftly necessary, both in number and 
extent, so as to employ the least possible time in attack and parry ; secondly, 
to balance those motions carefully with the adversary's, in order to seize at 
once the least opportunity and to reduce the number of chance hits to a 
minimum. It will be seen that, unlike the methods of closing and increasing 
the measure, the question of time was one of the first to be clearly understood 
by masters of fence. 

Being ''on guard" is a notion which has greatly changed its meaning at 
various times. In our days a man is said to be on guard when, holding his 
drawn weapon in front of him, he is in such a position as to be able to 
deliver every possible attack and come to every possible parry with the least 
expenditure of energy. In olden times, as will be seen, the guard was far 
less comprehensive, for the simple reason that the idea of self-defence 
was entirely merged in that of ofiFence to the enemy ; and it is only about 
two centuries ago that parries began to be considered as essentially difiFerent 
from attacks. The word " guard," therefore, only applied to the preliminary 
aftion of an attack — ^like a position of " assault " in sword exercise — and there 
were often as many set guards as there were known ways of delivering hits.* 

Under the word ** guard," therefore, will be studied, first, the various 
kinds of attacks in the early days of fencing, and, later on, its more extended 
meaning in the perfefted rapier and small sword play. From very eccentric 
positions, when they were chiefly oflFensive, guards approximated to our 
modern attitude in proportion as the question of parrying came to be as much 
considered as that of attacking. 

The definition of guard introduces the questions of " lines," " engage- 
ment," and " position of the hand." These three factors determine the nature 
of the guard, as they do also that of all attacks and parries, and will conse- 
quently be used to explain the meaning of old-fashioned expressions. 

The armed hand being kept, when on guard, in front of the body in a 
position approximately equidistant to all parts which have to be protefted, 
and all parts of the adversary's body which may be attacked, it is convenient, 
for the purpose of definition, to consider those parts as being either above or 
below the hand, on the right or on the left of it. An attack coming above 
the hand is said to come in a *' high line ; " below, in a " low line ; " outside 
the hand, in an *' outside line ; " inside, in an ^ inside line." Consequently, the 
expressions, high inside (or outside), low outside (or inside), applied to an 
attack, define its nature to a great extent.' 

Every attack has its parry, and four parries, so formed that the length 

^ See, for instance, Viggiani's guards from the second to the seventh. 
* Such a thing as a stridlly vertical ascending or descending cut does not really occur, if 
the whole trajeSiory of the weapon is considered. 



of the weapon crosses the " lines " of attack, are, stridly speaking, sufficient 
to meet the requirements of the defence/ 

In each of the four lines, the attack and parry can be effisfted in two 
positions of the hand, namely, in " supination " — with the nails turned upwards 
— or in ** pronation " — with the nails turned towards the ground. Fencing- 
masters also speak of the medium position, with the little finger turned towards 
the ground, but praftically this middle position always partakes of either of 
the two above mentioned.* 

The point reached or defended is defined according to the line as 
previously described, but the mechanism of the aftion diflfers according 
to the position of the hand. Consequently, there are eight natural ways 
of attacking and parrying, namely, two in each line : quarte and prime in the 
high inside ; sixth and tierce in the high outside ; septime and quinte in the 
low inside ; seconde and oftave in the low outside. 

The definition of a good guard has been given as one which oflTered 
more or less equal facilities for all attacks and parries ; it may now be added 
that a most obvious advantage arises from its being such as to close one of 
the lines. Consequently, there can be as many guards as there are parries, 
although, in modern days, carte, tierce, and sixth are almost exclusively 

With these premises it will be possible to give a definition of 
'* engagement ** which will not necessitate the notion of joining blades, and 
thus apply to broadsword as well as foil, to ancient swordsmanship as well 
as modern, to the Italian as well as to French or German schools. 

A man may be said to be engaged in a particular guard in a given 
line when the relative position of his weapon to that of his adversary's is 
such as to defeat all attacks in that line unless some means be taken to 
displace the guard and force an entrance. 

This can be done by beating or binding ; but the most obvious course 

* Indeed, with all the heavier weapons, broadsword, bayonet, quarter-staff, &c., four 
parries in the four lines are all that are generally used. 

' It may be objefted that these distinflions do not apply to the broadsword and other 
cutting weapons except in the supposition that cuts be delivered with the back or false edge. 
If, however, it be considered that cuts may be delivered obliquely, ascending or descending in 
each line, as well as horizontally, the distinction between the two positions of the hand becomes 
obvious ; certain attacks, such as the head cut and cut at the fork, show instances of absolute 
" pronation " and ** supination." Furthermore, in Italian and German sword-play, frequent 
use is made of the false edge for slicing cuts. It is pradlically true that, in some of the lines 
parries cannot be made in both positions^ as it would involve the use of the false edge, but 
theoretically they are feasible ; some anions of that kind are even taught in Rowlandson's sword 
exercise. {See Bibliography.) 

* For instance, in the French school, it is usual to engage carte or sixth ; in the Italian, 
carte or tierce ; with broadswords, tierce or seconde ; in the old fashion of " back swording," 
high prime ; in the German " Schlaeger " play, high prime or high septime. 


is to change the line of attack by passing the point of the weapon under 
or over the adversary's armed hand, according as his guard is in a high or 
low line ; or by passing over or under the point, in other words cutting over 
or under. These two modes of adion, as will be seen on a little consideration, 
apply to all weapons. 

One of the most important points in fencing, and one, however, 
very much neglefted by indiflFerent fencers, is to "keep the opposition" 
when delivering an attack in any line, namely, to close that line against a 
possible time thrust of the adversary. Most double hits are the result 
of a bad ^ opposition." 

^ Feints," or menacing in one line with the intention of attacking 
another, give the offending side some advantage in point of time, provided 
that they be so pronounced as to compel the defending side to take heed 
of them, uncovering, in consequence, the part selefted for attack. But, on 
the other hand, the attack, if parried, places the offender at a momentary 
disadvantage for avoiding the repost. 

There is another aftion, similar to feinting in its ultimate result 
(although not quite the same as regards its original intention), namely, 
the deception of simple, circular, or compound parries. 

There are two ways of parrying. The first, or simple parry, closes 
the line in which the attack is made, and may be called " opposition ; " the 
other, or circular parry, forcibly brings back the opposite weapon in the 
same line, which it closes again.^ 

A universal rule concerning parries of any kind is that, at their termina- 
tion, that is, at the moment when the adversary's stroke is to be finally thrown 
aside or stopped, the fort of the weapon should be opposed to the adver- 
sary's foible. This opposition, besides minimizing the effort necessary to 
counteradt a hit by affording superiority in leverage, reduces the movements 
of the weapon and hand to the smallest pradical limits. 

All these various principles and adions form the basis of the Art of 
Fencing. Simple and obvious as they are, three hundred years of praftical 
experiments were required for their reduftion to a complete system. 

In the course of this historical sketch the only points that will be looked 
for among the old authors are those that have just been defined, to wit : — 

Measure and distance — the modes of advancing, retiring, lunging, 
passing, and traversing. 

Time — the relative rapidity of movements of the body compared with 
those of the weapon. 

* A third description, called "parry by yielding" — which is used to counteradl 
binding — is really but a variety of the latter kind, since it brings the adversary's blade 
back to the same line again, as in the case of the circular parry, only the circular motion 
is performed with the fort, whilst the point remains more or less stationary. 


Guards — the change in their charafter from one chiefly offensive to 
the present. 

Attacks — methods of delivering cuts or thrusts, and the gradual simpli- 
fication of body movements in their performance. 

Parries — their ultimate distinftion from time hits. 

Feints — their comparative simplicity until later times. • 

Only those books marked in the Bibliography with an asterisk have been 
analyzed, being chosen as typical of a certain period or as containing some 
principles previously undiscovered. The arbitrary separation into periods, 
the first ranging from the early part of the sixteenth century to the first few 
years of the seventeenth, the second ending with the seventeenth century, and 
the third met^ing into our own times, is supported by the prevalence of 
leading charaAeristics : the first is the age of the Rapier, before the absolute 
predominance of the thrust over the cut ; during the second, the art of 
managing the point underwent a rapid improvement, the Rapier gradually 
gave way to the small sword, and a special French school developed disdni^ 
from the Italian ; the third is the age of the small sword, during which 
swordsmanship was brought to its present perfeiftion. 

More attention has naturally been devoted to the first two periods, as 
being the least known and the most interesting from an historical point of 
view. The latter period has been more carefully studied, at least by French 
authors, and admits of less original investigation. Writers on the Art of 
Fence have hardly ever found it worth while inquiring into the origins of 
the methods they expounded. 


ARADOXICAL as it seema, the development of the "Art of 

Fence " was the resuh of the invention of firearms. Its history 

need not therefore be taken up higher than the fifteenth century. 

The very few writers who have devoted their attention to 

the subjeft, generally carry their investigations a great deal too 

far when they go back to antiquity and expeA to find the origin of the 

science in the works of Polybius or Vegerius. 

The ideas of the Greeks and the Romans on such a subjeA could not 
possibly persist through the Middle Ages. During that period the habit of 
wearing plate armour in battle, and, indeed, on most occasions out of 
doors, caused the sword to be regarded in the light of a weapon of offence 
only, sufficient reliance being placed on helmet and carapace for proCeAion. 
On the other hand, unarmoured foot-men, in the impossibility of parrying 
or withstanding the heavy attacks of an iron-cased ant^onist, had to learn 
cither to avoid them by ^ility or overcome them by skill. So that it may 
be surmised that as long as the fashion of wearing complete armour prevailed 
— that is, before the general introduftion of gunpowder into warfare — two 
very distinft schools of fighting existed side by side and with very little in 

One was that of the noble warrior who cultivated his battering power in 
the lists and tournaments and the accuracy of his eye by tilting at the ring or 
quintain, but who otherwise learned little of what would avail him were 
he deprived of his proteAing armour. Indeed, the chivalrous science never 
had anything but a retarding efFeA on the science of fence. 

The other school, on the contrary, which was adapted to the weapons 
of the villain or burgess, was much more pratftical; it induced him to 
rely to a certain point on his weapons, as well as on general adivity, 
for defence, instead of on the artificial resource of armour. The issue 


of a personal combat between two knights was determined, in a great 
measure, by the resistance of their armour and, ultimately, by their power 
of endurance.^ But a fight between two villains, armed only with clubs, 
or with sword and buckler, necessarily admitted of a far greater display of 

A universal feature of the history of all old schools of arms is that 
they arose among the middle classes. Whilst the nobleman practised at 

Fig. 3. — Knighu contending under " the judgment 
of God." From ■ miniature in the Bibliotheque Royale 
at Brutacls. Fifceenth century. 

the barriers, the burgesses and artisans — who also owned weapons, though 
of a less noble kind than the knightly sword and lance — learned their use 
from jugglers, sword-dancers, or wrestlers, or some ancient veteran well 
versed in all the cunning of the art 

Throughout the Middle Ages, when towns managed to obt^n a certain 
amount of independence, schools were founded where tuition in the art of 
fighting with every kind of weapon used on foot could be obtained by any 
one possessing the requisite pluck and sinews. On the Continent especially, 
where the military value of the middle classes was their chief safeguard against 
oppression, a number of" fighting guilds " arose, in which traditions of skill 
were handed down through generations ; so that in the course of time it 
came to pass that men of all classes who wished to acquire great proficiency 
in the use of arms, found it necessary to resort to some such old school of 
fence. When " knightly " habits disappeared and were replaced by " cava- 

' See Oliver de la Marche, Froiwart, and other chroniclers, pasiim. 


lier " manners, the *' gentleman" took his lesson in arms from some plebeian 

This change in fashion corresponds chronologically with the rising of 
the sword, as the arm paramount, from the crowd of brutal armour-cracking 
weapons such as the schwerdt, the voulge, the halbert, the flail, and such like. 

With the disuse of total armour, the superiority of the " point" asserted 
itself, and from the cultivation of the point arose fencing proper. Hence 
the result that the old fencing schools, which were at the outset altogether 
popular, ended by being devoted chiefly to the pnuftice of the more aristo- 
cratic rapier. 

Pig. 4,.— The LoDg Sword and che Flail id the old GentiRii Schools. From J. Sutor. 

The materials necessary to the history of the art of fencing in England 
are very scanty. Personal combats always were in high favour, both as a 
means of settling private quarrels and as a violent pastime congenial to the 
Teutonic charafter. In war, our forefathers fought as stoutly with the sword 
as with all other weapons, but, until the latter part of the sixteenth century, 
only surmises as to the existence of any definite system of swordsmanship 
can be set forth. 

Until that date, woodcuts and miniatures 
representing fighting or dancing swordsmen, and 
references to sword and buckler as national 
weapons, are all the data that can be gathered on 
the subjeA 

A kind of " Pyrrhic dance," or display of 
skill in the management of sword and buckler. Fig. ;. — Sword Dance. From 
was a favourite entert^nment in Anglo-Saxon days. a MS. in the Cotton Li- 
This martial exercise was still looked upon as a ^"T- Cleopatra, C. viU. 
necessary accompaniment tt> all festivities in most '"' ^^""'T- 

parts of England as late as the fourteenth century, a fad which indicates 
that it could not have been otherwise than congenial or familiar to the Danish 
and Norman conquerors. 


In most cases, however, the sword dance developed into sham combats, 
and often into real fights, for the deleftation of merrymakers with sportive 

The distinction between such " cheironomy " and fencing is but slight, 
and these jugglers or sword-dancers are evidently early instances of those 
*' sword-men" and masters of fence so often mentioned in Elizabethan 

These ** sword-men," whether jugglers in sport or gladiators in earnest, 
were, of course, in great request as teachers of the art of handling weapons 

dexterously and gracefully by the knightly 
youth anxious to appear to advantage in 
the lists, and also by the less aristocratic 
townsfolk and their prentices, in days 
when to go unarmed or unpractised was 
to court violence and robbery. Accordingly, 
the first regular schools were established by 
Fig. 6.— Sword and Buckler. From such men, and curious places they must 

*^.?-^2,'^''^T^^'^'^''y' ^''•'^' have been!— each master following his 

E. 111. Thirteenth century. ^. i r j . i ^. ^ ii i.« 

^ particular fancy, and inculcating to all his 

pupils what he had found suitable to his particular build and habit. 

They were dangerous dens, most of them, inviting the attendance of the 
pugnacious and dissolute, and had the very worst reputation from the 
first time they are heard of as institutions. 

Men who professed to excel in the practice of fighting could hardly 
escape the suspicion of making better use of it, for their own ends, than 
merely teaching the use of the sword in battle or honourable combat ; 
and, on the other hand, the inducement was great, in those lawless days, 
to their patrons, noble and otherwise, to employ their capabilities for 
private vengeance. 

People were shy of interfering too openly with these bullies, and 
many scenes of brutal revelry, as well as darker deeds, must have taken 
place in comparative safety behind the walls of fence schools. 

In Lx)ndon, especially, the condufl: of " sword-men " and their scholars 
was often so obnoxious that regal authority had to intervene, as, for instance, 
is shown by the following extrad from one of those edifts* which prohibited 
at various periods the keeping of schools of arms, and forbade all loyal 
citizens to " Eskirmer au Bokeler." ....** Whereas it is customary for 
profligates to learn the art of fencing, who are thereby emboldened to com- 
mit the most unheard-of villainies, no such school shall be kept in the city 
for the future, upon penalty of forty marks for each oflFence. And all the 

1 The fifth of Edward I., a.d. 1286. 


Aldermen shall make a thorough search in their several wards for the 
detefting of such offenders, in order to bring them to justice and an exem- 
plary punishment. And, as most of the aforesaid villainies are committed 
by foreigners, who from all parts incessantly crowd thither, it is therefore 
ordered that no person whatsoever, that is not free of the City, shall be 
suffered to reside therein," 

The last part of this extraft is remarkable as showing that foreigners 
were then, as now, to be found among the ardent devotees of the schools. 
Such edifts were naturally evaded ; fencing schools always reappeared, and 
were openly frequented. It is, however, probable that many of them, able 
to give some kind of guarantee for the good charafter of their attendants 
took their existence by license. 

Fig. 7. — Sword and Buckler PUy. Thirteenth century. From ■ MS. in 
the Royal Library, No. 20. D. vi. 

But besides these licensed schools, many others were kept surrep- 
titiously, as is shown by such instances as the following, picked out from 
the records of the city of London : — 

"On the 13th day of March, 131 r, before Sir Richer de Refham, 
Mayor of London, appeared, among other delinquents :— Master Roger, 
le Skirmisour, attached for that he was indided for keeping a fencing 
school for divers men, and for enticing thither the sons of respedable 
persons so as to waste and spend the property of their fathers and mothers 
upon bad praftices." . . . 

Notwithstanding the prejudice against them, schools of arms were 
a necessity for the bulk of a warlike nation, and they continued in existence 
as a matter of course. 

Henry VIII., who was a great lover of all military sports, in order to 
encourage the practice of martial exercises, instead of suppressing, as his 
predecessors often attempted to do, the institution of fence schools altogether, 
incorporated all the most celebrated teachers of defence of the day In a 
company. And in order to mitigate the evil of independent sword-men, 
both in their professional teaching and in their private lives, altogether 
forbade anyone to teach the art of fence on any pretence, in any part of 
England, if he did not belong to the said company. 

In a curious black-letter book entitled " The Third University of 


England," and describing the schools and colleges of London in 1615, we 
find detMls of the institution of that " Normal " school of fence, and the 
ordeal that any would-be teacher had to undergo before being "passed" 
and permitted to call himself a master. 

Fig. 8.— Plebii sdoIcBcentw in Anglla pig. 9,— The Long Sword, 

habitus. FromCasparRu[z'E"Omne 
pens gentium Imagines," i S S7- 
Showing the Bword and hand buckler 
then in faihion. 

" Henry the eighth made the Professors of this art a Company, or 
Corporation, by letters patent, wherein the art is intituled the Noble Science 
of Defence. 

" The manner of proceeding of fencers in our schools is this : first, 
they, which desire to be taught at their admission are called Scholars, and, as 
they profit, they take degrees and proceed to be Provosts of Defence. 

" That must be wonne by public triall of their proficiencie and their skill 
at certain weapons, which they call prizes, and in the presence and view of 
manie hundreds of people. And at their next and last prize, well and suffi- 
cientlie performed, they do proceed to be maisters of the science of defence, 
or masters of fence, as we commonly call them. . .. None but such as have 
thus orderly proceeded by public aift and trial, and have the approbation of 
the principal masters of their company, may profess." 

The places where they exercised were commonly theatres, halls, or other 
enclosures sufiicient to contain a number of spedators, as Ely Place in Hoi- 


born, the Bell Savage on Ludgate Hill, the Curtain in HoUjrwell, the Gray 
Friars within Newgate, Hampton Court, the Bull in Bishopsgate Street, the 
Clink, Duke's Place, Salisbury Court, Bridewell, the Artillery Gardens, &c. 
Among those who distinguished themselves as amateurs in the science 
of defence are found Robert Greene,^ *' who plaide his maisters prize at 
Leadenhall," and Tarlton, the comedian, who " was allowed a master '* on 
the 23rd of OAober, 1587. 

This aft must have had as an incidental result that of greatly raising 
the standard of ability among English teachers, and also, by making the 
" professed " masters jealous of their monopoly, that of reducing the number 
of interloping swordsmen, whose charaAer partook as much of the " bravo " 
as of the teacher. 

Stow' probably refers to members of this corporation when he remarks 
** the Art or Defence and use of weapons is taught by professed masters.'* 

The author of the '* Third University of England," who, as was 
mentioned before, wrote in 161 5, mentions a weapon which only came into 
use in England towards 1580. 

*' There be manie professors of the science of defence and very skilfull 
men in teaching the best and most offensive use of verie many weapons, as 
the long sword, the back sword, rapier and dagger, case of rapiers^ single 
rapier J the sword and buckler or targate," &c. 

Although in his days the new-fangled " rapier" had become quite acclima- 
tized in England, in Henry VIII.'s time, and indeed as late as the first years 
of Elizabeth's reign, it was only known to a few travelled courtiers as an out- 
landish weapon much used in Italy and Spain, and sometimes in France. 

The national weapon was the "sword," with a plain cross hilt, and 
perhaps a half-ring guard. It was intended mainly for the cut, and usually 
accompanied by the hand buckler or targate. 

Notwithstanding general restriftions, a great deal of obnoxious swag- 
gering was common among the fencing gentry, who were as a rule looked 
upon with dislike and suspicion by the quieter portion of the community. 
The contemptuous name of " swashbuckler," applied to obtrusive devotees 
of the art of fence, graphically described these shady braves, and the 
clattering noise they created in their brawls, or even when merely swaggering 
down a narrow street. 

It would seem that *' swashbucklers " congregated mostly in West 
Smithfield, the London " Pre au Clercs," one of the few spots where their 
rioting could be tolerated.' 

*' They got their name," says Fuller,* " from swashing and making a noise 

' These details are found in MS. No. 2530. xxvi. D. Sloanian Colledliony Brit. Mus. 

' ** Survey of London" (1595). 

' Justs and tournaments used formerly to take place in Smithfield. 

* " Worthies of England." 


on the buckler, and that of ruffian, which is the same as a swaggerer," 
because they tried to make the side swag or inchne on which they were 

" West Smithfield was formerly called Ruffian Hall, where such men 
usually met, casually or otherwise, to try mastery with sword and buckler; 
more were frightened than hurt, hurt than killed therewith, it being accounted 
unmanly to strike beneath the knee, or with the point. But since that 
desperate traitor Rowland Yorke first used thrusting with rapiers, swords 
and bucklers are misused." 

Smithfield is also mentioned by Ben Jonson, in the introduflion to 
" Bartholomew Fair," as the common resort of sword and buckler men. 

Between the years 1570 and 1580, the rapier began to make its 
appearance, and being much more pradical for individual fighting than 
the clumsy old-fashioned sword, never complete as a weapon without the 
buckler, the latter rapidly went out of fashion. But the foreign weapon 
was not admitted, and the old one discarded, without the usual murmurs 
and regrets. 

"Sword and buckler fight begins to grow out of use," says a sturdy 
Briton, in " The Two Angry Women of Abing- 
don," * " I am sorry for it, I shall never see good 
manhood again ; if it be once gone, this poking 
fight of rapier and dagger will come up ; then 
a tall man, that is a courageous man, and a good 
sword and buckler man, will be spitted like a 
cat or a rabbit." 

Stow's " Annals " * contain a passage de- 
scribing the fashion of sword and buckler fights 
and its disappearance soon after the importation 
of the foreign custom of wearing rapiers : — 

"And whereas until the twelfth or thirteenth 

yeare of Queene Elizabeth, the auncient English 

fight of Sword and Buckler was only in use, the 

buckler being but a foot, with a pike of four or 

five inches long ; then they beganne to make 

Fig. to.— Sword and Buckler in them full half an ell broad with slurp pikes ten or 

Elizabethin day*. From Grissi. twelve inches long, wherewith they meant either 

to breake the swordes of their enemies, if it hitte 

upon the pike, or els sodainly to runne within them and stabbe and thrust 

their bucklers with the pike into the face, arme, or body of their adversary. 

But this continued not long, every haberdasher then sold bucklers. For, 

' A comedy of Henry Porter, written in 1 599. 
* " Annali," continued by Edmund Howes. 


shortly after, began long Tuckes and long Rapiers, and hee was helde the 
greetest gallant that had the deepest rufF and longest Rapier, The ofFence 
to the eye of the one, and the hurt that came unto the life of the subjeft by 
the other caused Her Majesty to make proclamation against them both, and to 
place selefted grave citizens at every gate, to cut the Ruffes and breake the 
Rapier's poynts of all passengers that exceeded a yeard in length of their 
Rapier, and a nayle of a yard in depth of their ruffes." 

Judging by these and other passages taken from various annals and 
like sources of information on that period, it appears certain that although 
" tucks " and the praftice of '* foyning " had been in favour some forty 
years on the Continent, they only became common in England during the 
first quarter of Elizabeth's reign. Stow is not the only authority who fixes 
this date. Camden,^ speaking also of the introduction of rapier fights into 
this country, attributes it to Rowland Yorke's exploits with that weapon :— 
" Yorcus ille Londinensis, homo distindo ingenio et praecipiti audacia, suo 
tempore inter sicarios Celebris, quod feralem illam rationem in duellis punftim 
petendi, summa cum audaciae admiratione, primus in Angliam intulerit, cum 
Angli latioribus caesim depugnarent, et vel punftim, vel infra cingulum 
ferire minime virile existimarent." 

This statement is corroborated by Abraham' Darcie,* who recounts how 
" Rowland Yorke, a desperado who betrayed Devanter to the Spaniards in 
1587, was the first who brought into England that wicked and pernicious 
fashion to fight with a Rapier called a Tucke, only fit for the thrust/' 

" Rapier " was the name given at that time to the Spanish weapon. 
A Frenchman called his arm, " espee ; " an Englishman, " sword." Both, 
when they talked of the Spaniard's sword, called it a rapier. 

In France, the word *' Rapiere " soon became a contemptuous term, 
signifying a sword of disproportionate length, — in fad, the weapon of a 

Not so, however, in England, where the word has always meant, 
since its introduftion into the language, a sword especially convenient for 
thrusting, and adorned with a more or less elaborate guard. As the 
Spaniards who frequented Mary's court had worn such weapons, many of 
which were brought over in the following reign as warlike trophies, it 
naturally enough followed that the word " rapier," meaning the " Spanishe 
sworde," ^ should have been applied to all swords used for thrusting in the 
Spanish style. 

The principles of this novel system of fencing seem to have been 
taught for the first time by disciples of the great Carranza. Many 

' " Annals.'' ' " Annah of Elizabeth." 

' Gile du Guez (Dewes), " Introdudlorie for to Icrnc to rede, to pronoance and to 
speke French trewly," London, >S3®* 


travelled Englishmen, on their return from Spain, recounted the fame that 
this " father of the science of arms " had acquired in his own country, and 
caused a general thirst for instrudlion in this new and deadly science. 
Spanish teachers came over the seas, and laid the foundation of the new 
fashion in arms, which was soon to relegate the comparatively barbarous 
sword and buckler to the Scottish Highlands, where it developed inde- 
pendently into what formed the basis of our English broadsword play. 

It may, therefore, be inferred that the science of fence with the 
*' foyning " rapier first came into this country from Spain ; but, on the 
other hand, the word " tuck " — tucke, stuck, or stock — ^applied to this new 
weapon, is distinAly of French origin, being merely the English phonetic 
for '* estoc." ^ 

In the Middle Ages, the estoc was carried on horseback, attached 
to the right side of the . saddle. It was a long narrow sword, with a 
blade generally more and less quadrangular, and was devised specially for 
thrusting in the event of the lance being lost or broken. The sword 
proper was carried on the horseman's girdle. 

The name estoc, or estocade, was applied later to that kind of 
weapon which, as we have seen above, was universally called rapier in 
England, namely, a straight sword, used for cut and thrust. 

So, after all, it is somewhat difficult to say with any kind of certainty 
whence the new fashion primarily came. 

Be it as it may, the praftice of ** foyning " had developed to a 
high degree on the Continent before the time when it was first heard of 
in England. It is not to be wondered at that the fashion having once 
taken a footing on our soil, should have spread with great rapidity, 
first among gentlemen and courtiers, and after a short time among ail 
swordsmen. Proficiency with rapier and dagger was eagerly cultivated, as 
the fashionable weapons were admitted in most schools of arms throughout 

In London especially, Italian and Spanish teachers were the rage, 
much to the disgust of the old-established English masters of defence. 
The names, and to a certain extent the biographies, of three of the most 
celebrated foreign teachers were handed down to posterity by a certain 
George Silver, gentleman, in a little book, now exceedingly rare, intituled 
" Paradoxe of Defence " ( 1 599). 

In this very curious opuscule, which shall be quoted at length further 
on. Silver assumes the position of champion to the old English masters 
of fence, against the popular infatuation for foreign teachers. 

From his general tone of bitter vituperation it seems clear that the 

^ An old French word^ from the Prankish " stock/' a pointed straight weapon. 


monopoly of the corporation chartered by Henry VIII. had lapsed. Had 
it been still in vigour, no difficulty could have been experienced in keeping 
foreigners out of competition by means of the simplest agreement and 
co-operation among English masters. 

It is well known, and a sad faft, that in no profession is jealousy 
displayed with more bitterness than among fencing-masters, and this spirit 
is most quaintly displayed on almost every page of the "Paradoxe of 
Defence,'* especially in the ** Briefe sketche of three Italian teachers of 
Offisnce," which concludes the little volume : 

" I write this, not to disgrace the dead, but to shew their impudent 
boldnesse and insufficiency in performance of their profession when they were 
living : that from henceforth this briefe note may be a remembrance and 
warning of what I wist. 

** There were three Italian teachers of Offisnce in my time. The first 
was Signior Rocko : the second was Jeronimo, that was Signior Rocko his 
boy, that taught gentlemen in the Blacke-Fryers, as usher to his maister 
insteed of a man. The third was Vincentio. 

'^ This Signior Rocko came into England about some thirteen yeares 
past: he taught the Noblemen and Gentlemen of the Court; he caused 
some of them to weare leaden soales in their shoes, the better to bring them 
to nimblenesse of feet in their fight He disbursed a great summe of money 
for the lease of a faire house in Warwick Lane, which he called his CoUedge, 
for he thought it great disgrace for him to kecpe a Fence * Schoole,' he 
being then thought to be the onely famous Maister of the Art of Armes in 
the whole world. He caused to be fairely drawne and set round about the 
schoole all the Noblemens and Gentlemens Armes that were his schoUers, 
and, hanging right under their Armes, their Rapiers, Daggers, Gloves of 
Male and Gantlets. Also he had benches and stooles, the roome being 
verie large, for Gentlemen to sit about his Schoole to behold his 

" He taught none commonly under twentie, fortie, fifty, or an hundred 
pounds. And because all things should be verie necessary for the Noblemen 
and Gentlemen, he had in his schoole a large square table, with a greene 
carpet, done round with a verie brode rich fringe of gold, alwaies standing 
upon it a verie faire standish covered with crimson velvet, with inke, pens, 
pen-dust and sealing waxe, and quiers of verie excellent fine paper, gilded, 
readie for the Noblemen and Gentlemen (upon occasion) to write their 
letters, being then desirous to follow their fight, to send their men to dispatch 
their businesse. 

" And to know how the time passed he had in one corner of his 
Schoole, a Clocke, with a verie faire large diall ; he had within that Schoole 
a roome the which he called his privie schoole, with manie weapons therein. 


where he did teach his schollers his secret fight, after he had perfedly taught 
them their rules. He was verie much loved in the Court. 

" There was one Austen Bagger, a verie tall Gentleman of his handes, 
not standing much upon his skill, but carrying the valiant hart of an English- 
man, upon a time, being merrie amongst his friendes, said he would go and 
fight with Signior Rocco ; presently went to Signior Rocco his house in the 
Blackefi-iers and called to him in this manner : 

" Signior Rocco, thou that art thought to be the onelye cunning man 
in the world with thy weapon, thou that takest upon thee to hit anie 
Englishman with a thrust upon anie button,* thou that takest upon thee to 
come over the seas to teach the valiant Noblemen and Gentlemen of England 
to fight, thou cowardly fellow, come out of thy house, if thou dare for thy 
life. I am come to fight with thee. 

" Signior Rocco, looking out at a window, perceiving him in the street 
to stand readie with his Sword and Buckler; with his two hand Sword 
drawne, with all speed ran into the street, and manfully let flie at Austen 
Bagger, who most bravelye defended himselfe, and presently closed with 
him, and stroke up his heeles, and cut him over the breech, and trode upon 
him, and most grievously hurt him under his feet : yet in the end Austen of 
his good nature (!) gave him his life and then left him. 

" This was the first and last fight that ever Signior Rocco made, saving 
once at Queene Hithe, he drew his Rapier upon a waterman, when he was 
thoroughly beaten with Oares and Stretchers : but the odds of their weapons 
were as great against his Rapier, as was his two hand sword against Austen 
Bagger s Sword and Buckler, therefore in that fray he was to be excused. 

** Then came in Vincentio and Jeronimo. They taught Rapier-fight at 
the Court, at London and in the Countrey, by the space of seven or eight 
yeares or thereabouts. 

** These two Italian Fencers, especially Vincentio, said that Englishmen 
were strong men but had no cunning, and they would go backe too much in their 
fight, which was a great disgrace unto them. Upon these words of disgrace 
my brother Toby Silver and my selfe, made challange against them both to 
play with them at the single Rapier, Rapier and Dagger, the single Dagger, the 
single Sword, the Sword and Target, the Sword and Buckler, and two hand 
Sword, the Staflfe, battell Axe, and Morris Pike, to be played at the Bell Savage 
upon the ScafiFold, when he that went in his fight faster backe than he ought, 
shold be in danger to breake his necke off the Scaffold. We caused to that 
eflFeA five or sixe score bils of challenge to be printed, and set up from 
Southwarke to the Tower, and from thence through London unto West- 3 
minster, we were at the place with all these weapons at the time appointed, 

I it 

. . . the very butcher of a silk button," — " Romeo and Juliet.' 


Within a bow shot of their Fence-Schoole : manie gentlemen of good accompt 
carried manie of the bils of challenge unto them, telling them that now the 
Silvers were at the place appointed, with all their weapons, looking for them, 
and a multitude of people there to beholde the fight, saying unto them : now 
come and go with us (you shall take no wrong), or else you are shamed 
for ever. 

^* Do the gentlemen what they could, these gallants would not come to 
the place pf triall. 

" I verily thinke their cowardly feare to answere this challenge had 
utterly shamed them indeede, had not the Maisters of defence of London, 
within two or three daies after, bene drinking of bottel ale, hard by Vincentio's 
Schoole ; and as they were comming by, the Maisters of defence did prayc them 
to drinke with them ; but the Italians, being verie cowardly were afraide, 
and presently drew their rapiers. 

" There was a pretie wench standing by that loved the Italians. She 
ran with outcrie into the street, helpe, helpe, the Italians are like to be 
slaine : the people with all speede came running into the house, and with their 
cappes, and such things as they could get, parted the fraie ; for the English 
Maisters of Defence meant nothing lesse than to soile their handes upon these 
faint hearted fellowes. 

** The next morning after, all the Court was filled that the Italian 
teachers of Fence had beaten all the Maisters of Defence in London who set 
upon them in a house together. This wan the Italian Fencers credit againc 
who therby got much, still continuing their false teaching to the end of their 

" This Vincentio proved himself a stout man not long before he died, that 
it might be scene in his life time he had bene a gallant, and therefore no 
marvaile, he tooke upon him so highly to teach Englishmen to fight, and to 
set forth bookes of the feates of Armes. Upon a time at Wels, in Somer- 
setshire, as he was in great braverie amongst manie gentlemen of good accompt, 
with great boldnesse he gaue out speeches that he had bene thus manie yeares 
in England, and since the time of his first comming, there was not yet one 
Englishman that could once touch him at the Single Rapier, or Rapier and 

'* A valiant gentleman being there amongst the rest, his English hart did 
rise, to heare this proude boaster, and secretly sent a messenger to one 
Bartholomew Bramble, a friend of his, a very tall man both of his hand and 
person, who kept a schoole of Defence in that town. 

" The messenger by the way made the Maister of Defence acquainted 
with the mind of the gentleman that sent for him, and of all that Vincentio 
had said. 

" This maister of defence presently came, and amongst all the gentlemen. 


with his cap off, prayed Maister Vincentio that he would be pleased to take 
a quart of wine of him. 

*' Vincentio, verie scornefuUy looking upon him, said unto him ; Where- 
fore should you give me a quart of wine ? 

" Marie, Sir, said he, because I heare you are a famous man at your 

** Then presently said the gentleman that sent for the Maister of 
Defence : 

" Maister Vincentio, I pray you bid him wehSome, he is a man of your 
profession. My profession ? said Vincentio, what is my profession ? 

" Then said the gentleman, he is a Maister of the noble Science of 

** Why, said Maister Vincentio, God made him a good man. But the 
Maister of Defence wold not thus leaue him, but prayed him again he wold 
be pleased to take a quart of wine with him. Then said Vincentio, I haue 
no need of thy wine ; then said the Maister of Defence : Sir, I haue a 
schoole of Defence in this towne, will it please you to go thither? Thy 
schoole, said Maister Vincentio ? what shall I do at thy schoole ? Play with 
me, (said the Maister) at the Rapier and Dagger, if it please you. Play with 
thee, said Maister Vincentio ? if I play with thee, I will hit thee i . 2.3.4 
thrusts in the eie together. Then, said the Maister of Defence, if you can, 
do so, it is the better for you, and the worse for me, but surely I can hardly 
beleeve thaj: you can hit me : but yet once againe I hartily pray you, good 
Sir, that you will go to my Schoole and play with me. Play with thee, said 
Maister Vincentio (verie scomefuUy) by God me scorne to play with thee. 

*^ With that word scorne, the Maister of Defence was verie much moved, 
and up with his great English fist and stroke Maister Vincentio such a boxe 
on the eare that he fell over and over, his legges just against a Butterie hatch, 
whereon stood a great blacke Jacke : the Maister of Defence, fearing the 
worst against Vincentio his rising, catcht the blacke Jacke into his hand, 
being more than halfe full of beere. Vincentio lustily start up, laying his 
hand upon his dagger, and with the other hand pointed with his finger, 
saying, Verie well : I will cause thee to lie in the gaile for this yeare i. 2. 3. 4 
yeares. And, well, said the Maister of Defence, since you will drinke no 
wine, will you pledge me in Beere ? I drinke to all the cowardlie knaves in 
England, and I thinke thee to be the veriest coward of them all ; with that 
he cast all the Beere upon him. 

" Notwithstanding Vincentio having nothing but his guilt Rapier and 
Dagger about him, and the other for his defence the blacke Jacke, would not 
at that time fight it out. But the next day he met with the Maister of 
Defence in the streete and said unto him. You remember how misused a me 
yesterday, you were to blame, me be an excellent man, me teach you how to 


thrust two foote fiirther than anie Englishman, but first come you with me : 
then he brought him to a Mercers shop, and said to the Mercer, let me see 
your best silken pointes, the Mercer did presently shew him some of seaven 
groats a dozen, then he payeth fourteene groats for two dozens and said to 
the Maister of Defence, there is one dozen for you, and here is another for 

" This was one of the valiantest fencers that came over the seas, to 
teach Englishmen to fight, and this was one of the manliest frayes that I 
haue heard of that ever he made in England, wherin he shewed himselfe a 
farre better man in his life than in his profession he was. 

** He set forth in print a booke for the use of the Rapier and Dagger, 
the which he called his praAise, I haue read it over, and because I finde 
therein no true rule for the perfeft teaching of true faft, neither sence or 
reason for due proofe thereof " 

Here Silver proceeds to run down the book in question with all the 
animosity of a competitor in an overcrowded field against a successful member 
of the profession. 

The notice concludes with an anecdote about Jeronimo, son of the 
unfortunate Rocco. 

^^ Jeronimo this gallant was valiant, and would fight indeed, and did, as 
you shall heare. He being in a Coch with a wench that he loved well, there 
was one Cheefe, a verie tall man in his fight naturall English, for he fought 
with his Sword and Dagger, and in Rapier fight had no skill at all. This 
Cheefe having a quarrell to Jeronimo, overtooke him upon the way : him- 
selfe being on horse backe, did call to Jeronimo, and bad him come forth 
out of the Coch or he would fetch him, for he was come to fight with him. 

" Jeronimo presently went forth of the Coch and drew his Rapier and 
Dagger, put himselfe into his best ward or * Stocata,' which ward was 
taught by himselfe and Vincentio, and by them best allowed of, to be the 
best ward to stand upon in fight for life, either to assault the enemie, or 
stand and watch his comming, which ward, it would seeme, he ventured his 
life upon ; but however, with all the fine Italienated skill Jeronimo had, the 
Cheefe with his Sword, within two thrustes ran him through the bodie and 
slue him. Yet the Italian teachers will say that an Englishman cannot 
thrust straight with a sword, because the hilt will not suflfer him to put the 
forefinger over the Crosse, nor to put the thumbe upon the blade, nor to 
hold the pummell in the hand, whereby we are of necessitie to hold fast the 
handle in the hand : by reason whereof we are driven to thrust both com- 
passe and short, whereas with the Rapier they can thrust both straight and 
much further than we can with the Sword, because of the hilt, and these be 
the reasons they make against the Sword." 

Fencing schools under Elizabeth, whether kept by foreigners or 


Englishmen, evidently bore a far better charatfler than in the preceding ages. 
Masters of note were greatly patronized by the nobility, and some of them, 
as has been seen, were set up on a very grand footing. 

Yet they seem to have retained in the estimation of most people some- 
thing of their old-established evil repute, as may be noticed in Fleetwood's 
— the Recorder's — letter to Burghley,' and in the violent attack on the 
fencing schools in Gosson's " School of Abuse." 

One may likewise quote on this subjeift a few lines of Dekker's " A 
Knight's Conjuring," written in 1607 : — 

" . . . . hee — ' the devil ' — was the first who kept a fence school, when 
Cayn was alive, and taught him that imbroccado by which he kild his 
brother ; since which time he has made ten thousand free schoUers as cunning 
as Cayn. At Sword and Buckler little Davy was nobody to him, and as for 
Rapier and Dagger the Germane' may be his journeyman." 

There are many reasons to be- 
lieve that the art of fencing made 
very little progress in the right 
direiftion until about the middle 
of the sixteenth century ; but, in 
any case, investigation is baiSed 
by the absence of any books re- 
lating to the subjeft. The oldest 
workextanthowever — thatofLeb- 
kommer* — describes very fairly 
the usual methods of fighting 
current during the fifteenth cen- 
tury ; wrestling and leaping were, 
according to it, important elements 
of the fencing of those days. 

Nevertheless, the mere exis- 
tence at any period of a definite 
Fig. ii.-Sword »nd Hand BueUer Four- pattern of sword in common use 
teenth ccmarv. From a MS. la Royal Library of '^t , ^ 

Munich throughout a country, supposes 

a definite system of fencing, and, 
therefore, schools must have existed long before the appearance of the first 
treatises on the art. 

Indeed, at all times and in all countries, some institution of the kind 

' '577- 

* Little Davy wai evidently an English Matter of Fence ; the " Germane " may refer 
to Meyer (tee Biblio. 1 570) or »ome foreign teacher establiihed in London. 

' See Biblio., 1 519 (German). The works of Pons, Torre, MoncJo, and Roman, do not 
$ecm to be extant. 


must have arisen as soon as it became possible for classes who had not to look 
upon fighting as their usual occupation, to exist in communities. 

As Germany can boast of the oldest existing book on the subjed, it 
will be best to commence by noticing the ancient Teutonic ** Fechtschulen/' 
and to leave England for the moment. 

No doubt all ** fighting schools " on the Continent developed in a 
manner similar to the old English schools of arms, but their connexion with 
regular corporations is of much older date. 

The oldest of these corporations is undoubtedly the " Biirgerschaft von 
St. Marcus von Lowenberg." 

In the course of the fourteenth century some enterprising and redoubt- 
able " fighting-masters " seem to have clubbed together and monopolized the 
right of teaching this art. They apparently succeeded in maintaining this 
monopoly, for anyone attempting to teach fencing in Germany was sooner 
or later confronted by the heads of this " Fechter-Gilde " — one captain and 
five masters — and oflfered the alternative of fighting them in turns or 
together, with the undoubted result of being cut to pieces, — or of entering the 
association under their rule. The result of this policy was that the 
Fraternity of St. Mark, or Marxbruder, became the rage, and their head- 
quarters, in Frankfurt-am-Main, a sort of university where numerous 
aspiring swordsmen came to earn their degrees in arms. By-and-by, as 
their reputation extended throughout Germany, all those who wished 
to set up a school of arms came of their own accord to Frankfort during 
the autumn fairs, and oflFered themselves as candidates for the " Briider- 

The ordeal was invested with a certain amount of solemnity. The 
captain, and as many of the Marxbruder as were present in Frankfort, 
fought with the applicant on a scaflFold eredled in the market-place. If the 
latter sustained the test creditably, the captain, with much pomp, struck him 
crosswise on the hips with the sword of ceremony, and the new member, 
after placing two golden florins on the broad blade of the sword, as a fee for 
his reception, was entitled to learn the various secrets of the brotherhood 
concerning the management of the sword and other weapons. 

The master who had thus graduated henceforth enjoyed the privilege 
of bearing the heraldic golden lion of the " Marxbruder," and of teaching 
the art of fence throughout Germany. 

The fraternity had long enjoyed by prescription many privileges which 
were recognized by letters patent by the Emperor Frederick at Niirnberg in 
1480, and renewed in 15 12 at Cologne by Maximilian I., in 1566 at 
Augsburg by Maximilian II., and in 1579 at Prague by Rudolf II. 

Fencing being thus imperially honoured, its praftice spread with greater 
and greater rapidity throughout Germany, and, notwithstanding the old- 


established monopoly of the " Marxbruder," new associations of fencers 
formed themselves. 

The most famous of these societies, and the only one which ever 
rivalled the " Marxbriider," was that of the " Federfechter,"' who were the 
first to adopt the Spanish and Italian sword-play, and to make a free use of 
the point 

The " Federfechter," while taking care to be proficient in the use of 
the two-handed " Schwerdt," looked upon the " Feder " as their distindive 
weapon, and challenged the " Marxbriider," wherever they met them, *' to 
fight honourably with them, cut and thrust." 

Fig. It. — From Meyer, IS70. A Marxbriider instrufliiig a Pupil. 
This guard ii limilir to the fourth of Vtggjaat (ace fig. 37). 

The usual issue of a combat between the ponderous old-fashioned 
schwerdt and the swift-thrusting rapier could not have been otherwise than 
favourable to the latter, which gradually came to be universally adopted even 
by the "Marxbriider." About the year 1590 there was no longer any 
observable diflfcrence between the modes of fighting of either society. 

The Association of " Federfechter " was first founded in Mecklenburg, 
from whose duke it received its cognizance, a griffin sable, and its charter 
as the Guild of" Freyfechter von der Feder zum Greifenfels." 

The two great guilds ended by sharing alike the monopoly of the 

' They derived their name from the "Feder," a slang word for the "Rapier" — the 
fashion of which began to iprcad about 1570. 


fencing art, their only distinftion being, that the head-quarters of the former 
remained at Frankfort, whilst that of the latter was established at Prague. 
The *' Oberhauptmanner " of both remained at the Imperial Court as their 
representatives and advocates. They were . accounted persons of very great 
importance and " ex officio " arbiters on all matters of honour and questions 
of fighting. 

The same customs and principles were followed by Marxbriider and 
Federfechter, and they displayed an equal observance of honour and disci- 
pline. Indeed, any member of the guild who transgressed the law, or adled 
against the honourable customs of the corporation, or brought dishonour on 
himself and discredit on the guild, was proclaimed unfit to be a master, 
publicly deprived of his sword, and struck out of the rolls of *^ an admirable 

All the most celebrated masters of the art arose from either of these 
communities. There are notices, however, of another society, " Lux 
Briider," — the Fraternity of St. Luke, — but little is known about it. It 
was one of those associations which never gathered sufficient strength to 
compete against the Marxbriider. The Luxbriider are not heard of later 
than the fifteenth century, but it is believed that from them are descended 
the so-called " KlopfFechter." These were a species of gladiators who, 
until as late as the beginning of the seventeenth century, wandered from fair 
to fair and displayed their skill in prize fights, a purpose for which they 
were often engaged by great lords on festive occasions. 

Thus, on the main points, the history of the Teutonic fencing commu- 
nities bears much resemblance to that of the English sword-men of the same 

Societies similar to that of the ** Marxbriider " in their heyday, holding 
by prescription or by charter a monopoly of the right to teach the science 
of arms, existed also in Spain and in Italy. 

The gladiatorial institutions — which survive to a certain extent in the 
national pastime of bull fighting — held a firmer footing in Spain after the 
fall of the Roman Empire than in any other province. The schools of 
fence so scientifically condufted by the " Lanistae " in the old days of Rome, 
remained in Spain under altered conditions through the numerous barbarian 
invasions, and were congenial enough to the customs of the Moors to live 
through their reign. 

The management of spear and shield, of sword and buckler, of axe and 
poniard, of short sword or braquemars, of falchion, and of all the varieties of 
hastate weapons, were taught by well-known masters. The schools of 
arms of Leon, Toledo, and Valladolid are mentioned by ancient authors 
as being much frequented, but the name of no teachers previous to Pons 
of Perpignan and Pedro de Torre, whom that great oracle on the science of 


arms, Don Luis Pacheco de Narvaez, mentions as having taught during the 
latter part of the fifteenth century, and printed in 1474 books which 
unfortunately have long since disappeared. 

Notwithstanding the want of exaft data on the subjeft, the numerous 
incidental references found in copious writers, such as Narvaez, Marcelli, and 
Pallavicini, make it clear that the profession of fencing-master in Spain 
during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was one which required serious 
preparation and unusual physical qualifications, and that a society of such 
masters exercised the monopoly of teaching and admitting candidates. 

Among some legal records still to be found in the Hotel de Ville at 
Perpignan, there exists an account — in the shape of an official document 
testifying to the proficiency of some aspirant to the degree of master of arms 
—of the ordeal which had to be undergone before it could be conferred. 
The doaiment of course was written in days when Perpignan was Spanish 
territory, and may be taken as a fair example of the customs in force in the 
early part of the sixteenth century. 

The carefully definite Latin terms which are used show that the institu- 
tion was of old standing and well recognized. 

The art of fence is described as " Ars Palestrinae ; *' the beginner, the 
** tyro " or student, the undergraduate in short, is called ** Lusor in Arte 
Palestrinae." After a given period and an examination in the use of a variety 
of weapons — five or seven in number — the " lusor " proceeded to the degree 
of "licentiatus in arte et usu Palestrinae," which corresponds to that of 
bachelor in the universities, or of " provost " in schools of arms. Lastly, 
when he had acqi^ired the use, theoretically and praftically, of all weapons, 
the " licentiatus " assumed the dignity of ** Master of Arms," or as the Latin 
document has it, " Lanista, seu magister in usu Palestrinse." 

The fully-privileged master was a very great person indeed, on all 
accounts, and very full of his importance, if any judgment as to his charafter 
can be formed from the ponderous books he subsequently indited. 

There was certainly some justification for his conceit, considering the 
ordeal he had gone through, having had to fight the whole board of his 
examiners, first separately, " ingeniose et subtiliter," and then all together, 
" simul et semel." 

A certain moral value was attached to the ceremony of installing a 
master; he was expefted to swear ** super signo sariftae crucis fafto de 
pluribus ensibus" never to use his skill for any but the most laudable 
purposes ~ a chivalrous undertaking, it must be said, as much honoured in the 
breach as in the observance. 

It will be seen that in Italy the oath administered on such occasions 
was restridled to the more praftical limits of never using the skill about to be 
imparted against the teacher himself.* 


Beyond the faft that there were regular and well-known schools of arms 
in Spain during the fifteenth century, and the fafl: that Spanish bands — the 
best trained in the use of arms of all European troops at that period — over- 
ran Italy and the Low Countries during the sixteenth century, and therefore 
may have diffused the Spanish methods of fencing in those parts, there are 
no reasons, notwithstanding the current opinion to that effed):, to ascribe to 
Spain the birthplace of the art. 

The subdivision of Italy into a great number of independent states, 
constantly at war with each other, ' fostered too much jealousy between 
different provinces ever to admit of any widespread associations of masters. 
Every town had its school, and each school followed a particular fashion 
according to the taste of the owner thereof. Nothing could be less 
conducive to improvement, and accordingly, until Marozzo's days, when 
Italy took the lead on matters of fencing, the Italian schools could not boast 
of any great superiority. Towards the year 1530, however, a kind of 
^privileged association undoubtedly existed^ which had its headquarters in 
Bologna, and Achille Marozzo for chief. 

It is somewhat curious that in France, fencing schools of any kind are 
not heard of previous to the sixteenth century ; and even, during the latter 
part of the same century, the most important ones were kept by Italians. 

It will therefore be better to begin by analyzing the works of the four 
leading Italian authors of the sixteenth century, namely, Marozzo, Agrippa, 
Grassi, and Viggiani, and then examine the work of Carranza, ** the father 
of the science of arms " in Spain, and notice their followers, Henri de Saindt 
Didier in France, Meyer in Germany, and Saviolo in England. 


lANCIOLINO and Marozzo^ who may be taken as typical of the 

M masters of that period, aiFord a curious insight into the notions of 

J swordsmanship prevalent in Europe during the fifteenth and the* 

3 beginning of the sixteenth century. It seems impossible to 

" discern a general leading principle or settled method in the works 

of that period : each individual master taught merely a colleAion of tricks 

that he had found, in the course of an eventful Ufe, to be generally successful 

in personal encounters, and had praAised until the ease and quickness 

acquired in their execution made them very dangerous to an unscientific 


All these tricks — for any other word can hardly be applied to modes 
of attack and defence so utterly contrary to all our principles — were dubbed 
with quaint, and even fanciful names. 

Manciolino's text is so much filled up by wise dissertations on the rules 
of honour and way of picking and deciding quarrels in a gentlemanly manner, 
that very little aftual " fencing " has found its way into his little work. Of 
the four guards therein described, the only one recognizable as being intended 
for any definite purpose, is a " high guard " somewhat similar to the modern 
head parry. 

The other three bear a very distant resemblance to " quinte," '* tierce," 
and " oftave." All that can be gathered concerning the attacks ** ferite " 
is, that they were delivered on the march. No distinftion seemed to be 
made between cut and thrust, the great aim was merely to place oneself in 
such a position relative to the adversary that either mode of striking was 

Marozzo's book, however, published five years later, fixes in a more 
precise nwnner the systems in favour before the superiority of the thrust 
over the cut became a matter of principle. 

Marozzo is generally looked upon as the first writer of note on the art of 


fencing. It would be perhaps wiser to consider him as the greatest teacher of 
the old school,^ the rough and undisciplined swordsmanship of which depended 
as much on clash and violence and sudden inspiration as on carefully culti- 
vated skill, 

Marozzo was a Bolognese^ but he kept his school in Venice.' His 
reputation was very great, to judge from the numerous editions of his works, 
five of which were published between 1536 and 161 5. 

No master of fence is likely to have written a book until he had acquired 
a widespread reputation as a teacher, and therefore it may be supposed that it 
was late in life that he undertook his *' Opera Nova,** tiie second edition of 
which appeared in 1550, and the third in 1568. It is presumable that he 
died between those dates, as the dedication of the third edition — by the painter 
Giulio Fontana, to Don Giovanni Manriche — speaks of Marozzo as one who 
*' was, as the world knows^ a most perfeA master in this most noble of arts,'* 
who ^* had trained an immense number of valiant disciples, and lastly written 
this work for the benefit of the public.** 

What was said of Manciolino can be repeated of Marozzo, with this 
difference, that the latter has much more to say on the subjed. 

Notwithstanding the little value of his teaching from our modern point 
of view, his work is remarkably in advance of any other at that period, and 
foreshadows the superiority of the Italian schools. 

The "Opera Nova, Chiamata Duello overo fiore delF Armi, &c., 
composta per Achille Marozzo, Gladiatore, Bolognese,'* follows on the whole 
a pretty rational " progression.*' 

After an invocation to the Holy Virgin and the *' Cavaliere San Giorgio," 
the " Maestro " places a sword into the ** Disepolo's" hand and explains the 
various ways of holding it, and likewise the advantage of passing one or two 
fingers over the quillons in order to obtain easier mastery over the move- 
ments of the blade.^ 

He then proceeds to explain the different uses of the ** falso filo " and 
**dritto filo,"* a distinftion which was much more important with the 
double-edged weapon of those days than it is now. Guards were then 
distinguished by the relative position of the edges. What is now called a 
guard in the inside line — such as carte, for instance — was distinguished as 
being in " dritto filo," or right edge ; vice versdy one in the outside line — 

^ Towards the later years of his life he was eleded "MaSstro generale dc I'artc dc I'armi," 
a title corresponding to the *' Hauptman " of the " Marxbriider/* 

^ Most of the treatises that appeared in Italy during the sixteenth century were printed 
in Venice. 

' It must be remembered that in all the plates of Marozzo's book, although the sword is 
represented with a plain hilt, the a6lual sword worn in his days had pas d*anes and counter- 
guards for the protedlion of the fingers — see also the last chapter. 

^ False edge and right edge. 


like sixte — was a guard in " falso filo," or false edge. This on the whole 
was a fair classification^ well adapted to a double-edged weapon mainly used 
for cutting. 

The master then draws on the wall a diagram illustrating all the cuts, 
fronj the right and left sides — ^^^ mandritti " and "roversi." All cuts 
delivered from the right, consequently on the adversary's left side, and with 
the right edge, were caUed " mandritti." ^ A mandritta could be either — 
Mandritto " tondo " or circular, delivered horizontally. 
** fendente " or vertical, downwards, 
montante " or vertical, upwards. 
„ ^* sgualembrato " or oblique, downwards. 

All cuts delivered from the left with the right edge — that is, on the 
adversary's right side — ^were called ^ roversi," and could be, in a similar 
manner, *' tondo,'* ** sgualembrato,'* " fendente,** or *' montante.** 

Frequent use was also made of the false edge for cuts, generally 
direfted to the wrists and knees, which were called " falso dritto ** or *' falso 
manco** according as they were delivered from the right or left. The 
pupil praAised these cuts in front of the figure. Marozzo does not speak 
of this exercise as an innovation of his ; in faA, it was but an improvement 
on the old-fashioned *' pel.** 

From this elaborate nomenclature it is obvious that the manner of 
using the edge for offensive aSion was well understood, and that little 
progress has been made since then in that department of fencing. This 
faA is quite in accordance with the favourite dieory then prevalent that a 
sword was made chiefly for cutting and slicing, and that the safest way of 
fighting was to try and anticipate the enemy in the attack. 

When the pupil, who, it seems, generally took his first lessons in 
private, was proficient in the variety of cuts, he proceeded to learn his 
guards, no special attention being paid to the thrust. 

A curious point about all books of fence written during the sixteenth 
century, is that although the word " parry " is continually used, not a single 
parry is ever defined. The principle on which the masters of that period 
founded their pra<5tice, was evidently that all attacks, if they could not be 
warded off by a buckler, a cloak, or a dagger, were to be met by a counter 
attack, or avoided by a displacement of the body. Even without stepping 
aside, it was believed that a similar cut to that of the assailant, dexterously 
delivered so as to obtain mastery over his *' faible,** could always be counted 
upon to aft as a parry as well as an attack. This notion was evidently a 
relic of the ideas impressed on generations of men by the habit of never 
looking to their sword for any but offensive adion. 

' From " mano dritta," right hand. 


Marozzo's guards carry but little of the meaning which is now attached 
to the word. 

They are merely a collection of attitudes, each of which is merely the 
preliminary to one or two attacks. They are conneAed in a series in the 
same way as cuts and thrusts are concatenated in any sword exercise, and so 
arranged in pairs that in going through the whole series the fencer finds 
himself alternately right and left foot forward. All the guards and cuts can 
therefore be gone through with alternate steps forward or backwards. 

The attack was delivered by stepping forward or sideways, and the 
parry — if it may be so called — or counter attack, by stepping back or 
sideways on the opposite side. 

It is impossible to understand the meaning not only of Marozzo*s guards, 
but those of all the authors previous to the seventeenth century, unless it 
be remembered that a guard was only the first stage of a given set of 
" bottCy^ ^ and was in no way supposed to cover any part of the body. 
These attitudes, which, for some reasons, by no means obvious, had been 
found suitable, bore curious names, strongly savouring of slang,* and were 
devised either by Marozzo himself, or by his master Antonio de Lucha, 
likewise a Bolognese, "whose school produced more warriors than ever 
came out of the horse of Troy," He speaks of them, however, as if they 
were perfeAly well-known and required no explanation. 

Before proceeding to the description of the set guards, the author, with 
the moral authority due to his position as ^* Maestro Generale," sketches the 
general plan that the master ought to follow in his teaching. 

" I wish thee to make thy scholar pradlise these things " — the cuts and 
parries in the form of counter attacks — ** during four or five days with thee. 
As soon as he knows them well,^ wish thee to begin and examine him in 
every guard, but especially in those of Porta di ferro larga, stretta, o alta, 
also in Coda lunga e stretta. This thou shalt do as in a combat with sword 
and target or shield or buckler, or with sword alone. Let this indicate to 
thee that in teaching a scholar to play with any of the above weapons, thou 
must make him understand all these guards, one by one, step by step, with 
their attacks and parries and everything pro and contra. Thou shalt see in 
these writings, and in the figures therein to be found — and therefore do not 

^ The word ^' botta " means^ in a broad sense, what is called in French *' coup ; " it 
comprises the adlion of the attack from its beginning to its completion. 

' ' These names of guards are difficult to translate. Porta di ferro probably means a given 
way of holding the sword {J'erro having the same signi£caiion as the LsLt'in/errum), qualified as 
lar^a (open or wide), stretta (strait or close), or by such words as cingbiara (girth or waist). 
Coda no doubt refers to the point, and is likewise qualified as longa (long or advanced), aUa 
(high), &c. Beeca (beak), qualified as fossa or cesa^ is still more puzzling; it may perhaps 
carry the meaning of sustained in the former case and drooping in the latter. The meaning, 
however, of such guards as di intrare, difaccia^ di testa, is obvious. 


fell to succeed in teaching the same — that I make no difference in the 
guards on account of the weapons. But, in order not to cover too much 
space and to avoid repetition, I explain them merely in conneftion with the 
sword alone, or with the sword and buckler. 

" And so follow me in the name of the all-powerful God. 


" Let thy scholar stand with the right leg foremost, with the sword and 
the target well out, and see that his right hand be well outside his right knee 
with the thumb turned downwards as may be seen in the fig. 

Fig. 13. — " Codi luDga e stretta" and " Cil^biara porta di ferro." — Marozzo. 

" This is called coda lunga e stretta, and is meant for striking and parry- 
ing. The scholar being in this guard, thou wilt show him how many attacks 
he can make therefrom being agente^ and how many parries with the shield 
he can perform as patientti from above and from below, and likewise 
their variations one from the other. Thou wilt also show him the parries 
against his own attacks. 

** Then make thy scholar deliver a mandritto squalembrato, and cross 
over sideways, with the left leg a little in front of his right, and inform him 
that his sword -is held on the guard of 


" Thou shalt give thy scholar to understand that whenever he forms this 
' Agcnte, that is, aflive, or on the attack. ' Patiente, paislve, on the defensive. 



guard, he must needs be patieniCy because all low guards are rather for 
the purpose of parrying than of striking. However, should he want to attack, 
thou knowest that this can only be done with the point, or the false edge ; 
therefore thou wilt show the said scholar, being on that guard, if anyone 
deliver an attack of any kind, in what way he must parry and then strike, 
advising him rather to strike with false edge, since thou knowest that the 
false edge can wound and parry at the same time. 

" After this thou wilt make him pass his right leg forward, and lift his 
sword hand up ; this new position is called 


** Thy scholar being placed on that guard, thou wilt show him how many 
cuts are derived therefrom, careftdly remarking that this guard is meant 

Fig. 14.. — " Coda lunga c aha," and " Porta di fciro stretta overo larga." — Marozzo. 

chiefly for the attack. Then show him the parries in a similar way, and 
make him pass his foot either forward or back, according to the occasion. 

** Then thou wilt make him carry his left leg forward and lower his 
sword to about half his height ; this guard is called 


" I wish thee to know that, when remaining patience, this is a good 
guard, and most useful, and accordingly advise thee to tell thy pupil that he 
had better assume this guard on the defensive, and make him understand all 
that can be done on it, pro and contra. . . . 



** After some praftice in this, thou wilt make thy scholar deliver a man- 
dritta fendente, and pass with the right leg foremost, and he will thus come 
down to the guard of 

** Porta di ferro stretta overo larga." 

All the **botte" that could be delivered in cinghiara porta di ferro, 
especially with the false edge, were possible from this guard. 

The passage to the next was thus : — 

*' Thou must cause thy pupil to remain with his left leg forward and 
lower his sword. He shall thus come to the guard of 

^'Guardia di coda lunoa e distesa. 

C^ModiA <fi testa. 


QKfln&i A Bi/niitf. 




^^^^^^R^^ l\. 





^ --5 

^K^F .^^A^ffla^ '^^^^^K J^^^K^^^^HBHBB 

Fig. 15. — Guardia di testa — Guardia di intrare. — Marozzo. 

** Being on this guard, thou wilt cause him to be agentCy especially with 
dritti falsi, or with the point, with roversi, and such odier attacks as can be 
derived from the s^d guard. Thou must also teach him the parries thereto, 
since the art of striking is but little in comparison with a knowledge of the 
parries, which is a fine and more useful thing. After giving him good 
pradice in all the said parries and strokes, running from guard to guard, and 
from step to step, and always questioning him on the names of said guards, 
thou wilt cause him to pass his right leg forward in front of the left, and 
hold his sword-point lifted in the air ; with his arm extended straight toward 
his adversary, as thou seest in the fig. 

** This is called — 

'* Guardia di testa. 


** In this head guard one can be both agente and patientCy but I shall 
first speak of the defence. 

** If any one should cut at him with a mandritto fendente or sgualem- 
brato, or a tramazone/ thou wilt make him parry in head guard, and then 
from this guard pass to the attack ; he can do so with a thrust from the 
right over the hand, or a mandritto fendente, or tondo, or sgualembrato, or 
a falso dritto. From this head guard, thou wilt make him proceed with a 
thrust from the left* in his adversary's face, and advance his left leg in front 
of the right, rather sideways to the left, and point his sword straight in his 
adversary s face. 

*' He will thus find himself in the 


" On this guard one must be pat tent e^ as few attacks can be made from 
it. . . . Thou wilt make thy pupil lead oflF with roverso, and follow up 
the stroke by passing his right leg foremost, drawing back the arm at the 
same time, and extending his fist toward the ground ; thou wilt then inform 
him that he is on the guard of 

" Coda lunga e larga. 

" Take notice that on this guard thou canst both assault and defend, for 
it is possible to use the false edge from the left, and to cut tramazone with 
both right or false edge, or tramazone roverso, or false filo tondo, and roverso 
sgualembrato, by turning the sword to its proper place. Likewise thou 
canst deliver thrusts from the right or left, with or without feints, and all the 
roversi that belong to them, &c. .... 

'' After this thou wilt make thy scholar move his left foot forward and 
drop his sword-point towards the ground, turning the pummel upwards, and 
thou wilt see that he extend his arm and turn his thumb under and towards 
the point of the sword. 

" This done, thou wilt inform him that he is on the guard 


" Having thus examined thy scholar in every guard, I am of opinion that 
on his assuming the becca possa, thou shouldst advise him to oppose it to his 
adversary whenever the latter assumes that of porta di ferro larga, or stretta, 
or alta, and to follow him step by step, and from guard to guard. That is, 

* The tramazone, or stramazone, here mentioned for the first time, was a cut delivered 
from the wrist with the extreme edge of the sword. 
' Punta roversa. 



if the adversary goes in coda lunga e distesa, he must go into becca cesa ; 
against coda lunga e larga, make him oppose coda liuiga e stretta ; agunst 
becca cesa, cinghiara porta di ferro alta ; against guardia di intrare, guardia 

" Let him now advance the right leg forward and turn his point towards 
his adversary's face, thumb upwards, arm fiilly extended, and then tell him 
he thus finds himself on the 

" Guardia di faccia. 

** Having made him assume this guardia de faccia, inform him that in this 
he can both assault and defend at the same time. On his adversary's cutting 
mandritto tondo, or fendente dritto, he should thrust at the same time at his 


■ t^-'tv 

X^t, H i«, ,m. 


Fij l6. — Coda lunga e lar^ — Becca possa. — Marozzo. 

The great art in the fencer was to pass with rapidity from one of these 
guards to the other. 

By thus changing the guard, and consequently changing the probable 
attack, the quicker fencer of the two forced his adversary into new attitudes 
in order to deliver the necessary counter attacks, which held the place of 
parries proper. 

One thing must be remembered in considering the very imperfeft 
theories current at the time concerning the art of single combat, namely, that 
the sword then in common use, although devised for cutting almost to the 
exclusion of the thrust, was eminently ill-construaed for the purpose ; very 
heavy in proportion to its breadth, it had not yet become divested of the 



charafteristics necessary for its employment against armour — ^stiffiiess and 
heavy weight.^ 

The target or buckler was held on guard in two positions : either at 
arm's length straight in front of the body, or close to the chest or the face, 
with the elbow square. Cuts were parried at an obtuse angle, so as to make the 
blow slide outwards, right or left ; thrusts were beaten sideways with the flat. 

Praftice in ^* passing " was facilitated in the schools by means of lines 
traced on the ground. Marozzo considered that fencers should go through 
their exercises with stiff and sharp blades,/' in order to make them good 
parricrs and strong in the arm." 

It is, therefore, no wonder that he insists on the necessity of never 
allowing beginners to play loose, and later on of only allowing pupils to fence 

Fig. 17. — Guardia di faccia. Becca cesa. — Marozzo. 

with ** proficient swordsmen of pleasant dispositions." He even advises 
young men ''on such occasions to make a collation together, for the pro- 
motion of good feeling." 

The masters of the sixteenth century had already found out the truth 
of a principle which is not sufliciently regarded in our days, namely, that to 
become a proficient swordsman, a fencer should not attach too much im- 
portance to hits received in praftice, and never show temper, but rather 
take his mishap as a lesson, and learn to prevent its recurrence in good 
style. For the better preservation of the equanimity requisite for sound 

^ The point was rarely used, but, when employed, the thrusts were generally aimed at 
the face. This habit was probably due to the fashion of wearing shirts of mail. 


fencing, a rule was enforced in the schools that no comparisons should be 
made between, and no remarks passed on, the fencers at play. 

Pupils only met for praftice, the lessons were generally given in private, 
and even with the utmost secrecy on those occasions when the masters con- 
descended to teach their favourite **botte" to a privileged scholar.^ 

There was a great deal of pomp and circumstance displayed on the instal- 
lation of a new pupil. From our point of view, considering the rudimen- 
tary state of the art at that period, masters had little else to give to their pupils 
than the opportunity of praftising with a man who was well used to all kinds 
of fighting. They had no system which could compare for a moment with the 
most elementary course of fencing in our days. But a knowledge of the use 
of weapons was then of such paramount importance, that naturally great 
swordsmen and recognized masters tried to enhance the glamour of their pro- 
fession by keeping up the belief in the " botta segreta," and surrounding their 
lessons with no little amount of secrecy. Such has always been the case with 
sciences before their establishment on the basis of indisputable principles. 

Marozzo accordingly binds his scholars .upon a cross hilt, *' as it were 
God's Holy Cross, never to take part against the master, and also never to 
teach any other person without his permission the secrets he is about to 

Most of the old books of fence dwelt as long on the use of military 
weapons as on that of the sword, for purposes of single combats or duels. 

Marozzo's work is typical in that resped:, and is divided into five books : 
the first two deal with the sword alone, or accompanied by the buckler^ target, 
brochiero, imbracciatura, dagger, or cloak.* 

The third with the use of spadone,' to which the same principles and the 
same guards are applied. 

The fourth is devoted to the hastate weapons : pike, partisan, voulge 
(roncha) and poleaxe, alone or with the buckler. 

The fifth deals with those matters which generally sufiFuse and involve 
the text of most fencing books of that time, namely, the application of philo- 
sophical principles to the art of fighting, and the resolution of knotty points 
in honourable difliculties arising under the laws of the duello. 

Marozzo's work is very complete and carefully written, but it shows no 
tendency towards the reduftion of the art to definite principles. Indeed, it 
does not profess to advocate any innovation. The popularity of the book was 

* Brantdme, " Discours sur les duels ct rhodomontades." 

* The sword during the sixteenth century was rarely used alone. The buckler (rotella) 
covered the whole forearm, to which it was attached by two straps. The target and "brochiero" 
were varieties of the hand buckler. The imbracciatura was a long shield, somewhat similar 
to the Roman scutum or the pavois of the Middle Ages. 

* Two-handed sword. 


very great, however, — three editions appeared after his death, at long intervals, 
— and it was evidently still in great request among some old-fashioned fencers 
in the early years of the seventeenth century, when such great masters as 
Fabris, Capo Ferro, and Giganti were keeping their flourishing schools. 

Seventeen years after the first appearance in print of Marozzo*s system 
of fencing, the printer Antonio Blado published in Rome, " con privilegio 
di N. Signore Papa Giulio III.,'* a remarkable work on swordsmanship, 
which advocated some very bold and new principles : it was the '* Treatise 
on the Science of Arms with a philosophical dialogue '* of Camillo Agrippa, 
a Milanese. 

Agrippa is better known to biography^as architedt, mathematician, and 
engineer, in which capacities he wrote sundry books. He is especially cele- 
brated for having brought to a successful issue the operation of raising the 
needle in the middle of the Piazza di San Pietro.^ 

But, like many of his contemporaries, and especially his friend Michel- 
angelo, who did not find his stupendous works sufficient to quench his super- 
abundant energy, Agrippa devoted much of his time to praftice in the schools 
of fence. 

Not being a teacher, he was not shackled by any conventionalities, and 
accordingly his book is original, and much in advance of the popular notions 
of his days. As an engineer he studied the link movements performed by 
the various parts of the human anatomy in the aftions of thrusting and cutting, 
and his mathematical mind revelled in geometrical figures and optical diagrams 
devised for their explanation. No doubt his ** philosophical dialogue '* on that 
subjeA is very tedious, but " theory '* led him to the useful praAical result of 
discarding, on most occasions, the cut in favour of the thrust. 

Most weapons suggest at first a ** round " hit ; even in mere pugilism 
an untutored man will strike in that way, and uses his fist as a club. A 
straight hit along the shortest way, and with the body's weight in its dired: 
prolongation, is the result of both theory and praAice. The cut is the more 
natural, that is, the easiest adtion ; the thrust is the result of a complicated 
and carefully regulated combination of movements. This fad alone shows 
why the thrust belongs to a more advanced stage of the art 

The praAical value of his theory must have made itself patent to 
Agrippa during many a personal encounter in the dark winding Roman 
streets, if his mode of life was, and there is little doubt of it, as obstreperous 
as that of the immortal Buonarotti. 

Agrippa was an educated man, who had taken up swordsmansMp with a 
scientific interest, and naturally detefted the fundamental errors of the popu- 
lar modes of fencing, and devised a much simpler system. 

^ The account of this undertaking is given in his "Trattato di trasportar la guglia in su 
la piazza di San Pietro." — B. M. 


One of the most obvious errors was the number of different guards, 
connefted with each other by the most artificial ties, and each of which 
afforded opportunities for only a limited number of strokes, whereas every 
possible kind of hit can be delivered from any one position in which the 
sword is held in front of the body and menacing the adversary. 

Another was the little use made of the point, notwithstanding the fad 
that less exertion and less time is requisite for the thrust, which is also more 

Fig. i8. — Primi Guardi*.— Agrippa. Fig. 19. — frtma Guttrdia, on a pasi. — Agrippa. 

difficult to parry. A third was the unnecessary amount of exposure aflfbrded 
by any guard where the left foot is kept foremost, whilst the sword is held 
in the right hand. 

AcconUngly, discarding all the old-^shioned fantastical titles, he reduced 
the number of useful guards to four, giving them plain numerical names, 
" prima, scconda, terza, quarta." 

It so happens that, as far as the position of the hand is concerned, 
those guards have some kind of relation to our prime, seconde, tierce, and 

As a praAical man, the author wisely considered the first guard to be 
assumed in the aA of drawing the sword : men did not then stand on much 
punctilio in matters of fighting, and, in a quarrel, to draw and to be on guard 
had to be one adtlon. 

A long " rapier " could not be whipped out as deftly as a court sword ; 

before the point had left the scabbard the hand was above the head. Accord- 
ingty^ the position of a man who had just drawn and turned his point to his 
adversary's face, was Agrippa's first guard. Both feet were on the same line, 
the body slightly bent. 

The second only diilered from the first in that the arm was lowered to 
the level of the shoulder. 

In the other guards the feet were kept apart ; in the third the hand was 
just above and outside the right knee, whilst in the fourth it was held more 
to the left 

Translated into modern technical terms, and with reference only to the 
position of the right hand, — 

Fig 20. — Qairt* Guardia. — Agrippa. Fig. 11. — Scconda Guardia, on a pasi, — Agrippa, 

Prima guar^a is somewhat amilar to prime. 
Seconda „ „ j, to a high seconde or tierce. 

Terza „ „ „ to low tierce. 

Quarta ,, „ „ to a low carte. 

These were the fundamental guanis, but there were also others, differing 
therefrom only by the greater or lesser extension of the arm, so as to suit the 
aift of '* passing " and " timing." 

The thrust was delivered by fully extending the arm, bringing the 
right shoulder forward, so as to be better covered, and slipping the left foot 
back. The face was even often turned away on the delivery of an attack. 
It was usually aimed at the face or breast. 

One would think that this series of positions might have suggested to 
his analytical mind some better kind of " lunge " as a complement. How- 
ever, the invention of the " development " was reserved for a later period. 


Like everyone else, Agrippa used ** passing " ' both in attack and defence. 
Neither did these guards, which are so suggestive of parries, lead him to 
devise anything better than " eflfacements," passes, or counter thrusts, as means 
of avoiding or meeting an attack. 

On these principles he explained the best methods of fighting, chiefly* 
with sword and dagger— those being weapons th^ every gentleman always 
wore; with two swords, which was a rather clumsy extension of the same; 
with sword and buckler, and sword and ctoak. 

Fig. z2. — Sword and Buckler. A thruit from the "quirta guardia," 
by a ilip to the right. — Agrippa. 

He likewise mentions the use of the halbert, the two-handed sword, and 
has some words of advice to give on the subjed of fighting on foot against a 
mounted adversary ; also on the best course to adopt in a melee. 

Many of the plates in the original edition of Agrippa are attributed to 
Michelangelo.* One of them illustrates the immense popularity enjoyed 
by Agrippa as an adept of the art, by representing him as surrounded by 

^ "Psjsing," in contradjitinQion to "lunging," consiBis in the aAion of carrying one 
leg in front of the other, initead of preietving the relative position of the feet and merely in- 
CTeaaing their Kparation. 

* See Biblio. Certain mMter$, Pallavicini, Marcelli, and others, pretend that Agrippa 
wrote his treatise in 1536, without however giving any reason for their statements. But still 
lest likely is the presumption of the compilers of the Delia Crusca dictionary, that the figures 
for his work were designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo died in 1519. 


friends^ Venetians and Romans, recognizable by their costumes. The former 
are dragging him away, while the latter are striving to retain him in Rome. 

It is probable, however, that the Venetians carried the day, and succeeded 
in attrafting him, since two editions of his treatise appeared later in Venice, 
the first of which was brought out by the painter Giulio Fontana at the same 
time as that of Marozzo. 

In 1 570 appeared the " Ragioni di adoprar sicuramente Tarme " of 
Giacomo di Grassi,^ a work which obtained a great reputation and had the 
honour of being ** Englished, by a gentleman, ' of forming the basis of the 
more elaborate work of Henri de Sainft Didier, and of being imitated in 
Germany by Meyer and Sutor. 

Grassi introduced a few important improvements in the theory of the art, 
and taught a very much simpler method than that of Marozzo. Typical 
instances of his system will be found in Saind Didier and Saviolo's works.' 

Grassi seems to have been the first to define the different parts of the 
blade with reference to their properties for defence or offence, and to have 
had an inkling of what is now termed '^ centre of percussion." In his pre- 
liminary remarks he divides the blade into four parts, the first two — nearest 
to the hilt — he explains should be used in parrying ; the third, about the 
centre of percussion, in cutting ; and the* part nearest the point, for thrusting. 

He strenuously insists on the superiority of the point over the cut for 
direA attacks, and speaks of the ^ tocchi di spada " and a sense of touch with 
the blade in a manner which is remarkablei as blades were so rarely engaged 
in rapier-play. He also mentions explicitly the necessity of parrying with 
the right edge, deeming parries with the false edge dangerously weak. 

All his attacks are delivered by means of '^ passes ; '* in this respeA 
his teaching is retrograde. Agrippa had long before clearly explained the 
advantage of keeping the right foot forward in most cases. 

Although in favour of the thrusts, Grassi goes into careful details con- 
cerning cuts, which he classifies according as they are given from the 
shoulder, from the elbow, or from the wrist, and explains on what occasions 
the cut is a quicker return or counter attack than the thrust. 

Considering the rapid changes in the relative distance of the combatants 
which was the consequence of '^ passes," it is obvious that on many occasions 
the measure was too small to admit of thrusting, although cuts might be 
still available. 

Grassi settles the question of distance by carefully defining the length 
and diredion of paces. 

These were *'passo refto," used only to close the measure, "passo 
obi iquo," and *' mezzo passo obliquo o circolare." 

Grassi is the first author who takes into consideration the question of 

1 Sec Biblio. » See Chapter V. 



" lines," which he divides into inside, outside, high, and low : " On all occa- 
sions die sword is held either in low line (di sotto), in high line (di sopra), 
inside (di dentro), outside (di fuora)." But although admitting four lines of 
attack he only teaches three guards, subject to slight modifications : high, 
low, outside — guardia alta, bassa, largha. 

Fig. 23 shows the first two, right and left 
hand. The third is assumed with the elbow 
square with the shoulder, hand in tierce, point 
menacing the adversary's chest. All these 
guards are very imperfeft ; indeed, in all the 
passages relating to the subjeA of defence, 
nothing but most uncertain " dodges " are 
mentioned as ways of avoiding destruAion. 

The greater part of the treatise is natu- 
rally devoted to the praftice with sword and 
dagger, brochicro, or cloak. This more prac- 
tical portion is expounded very clearly. In 
the introduftion, " Delia spada et pugnale," 
the author remarks, " It seems proper, passing 
from the simple to the complex, to speak 
now of those arms which are most gene- 

_. r-L rr. p J rally used nowadays; we mean the sword 

Fig. ij. — The Two Swords, ' -ju^u-jl c 

the "«.; of r.pi«." of English accompanied by the poniard: these are, of 
misten. — Graiu. course, much more valuable for offence as well 

as for defence. It must, therefore, be de- 
clared that with these can be praAised the desirable art of parrying and 
striking at the same time, which is impossible with the sword alone. . . . 
These two arms being of different size and weight, such a part must be 
ascribed to each, in the offence and the defence, as it is capable of performing, 
that is, to the poniard, being short, that of guarding the left side as 
low as the knee, and to the sword, that of defending the whole of the 
right side and the left below the knee. It must not seem strange that the 
poniard should be expeAed to proteA all the parts on the left, for it can 
do so with the greatest ease if it goes and meets the sword about the 
first and second part. But it cannot do it with any kind of safety if it 
meet the sword about the third and fourth part, as the force of the blow there 
is too great." ' 

Grassi is not of opinion that the prevailing method of parrying a cut 

' The da^er was UMUIIy graiped in the same manner ai the sword. Sometimci the thumb 
was held flat a^inat the heel of the blade, aometimes even the forefinger and thumb were crossed 
over the guard. But in fencing the dagger was never held with the thumb nearest to the 
pummel, as it is to often piAured nowadaya. 


with the sword and dagger crossed is recommendable, on the ground that it 
is impossible to return the hit without loss of time and giving up the advan- 
tage of the double weapon, namely, that of countering. 

He believes so much in the value of the dagger when used in the way 
described, that he maintains that it can hold its own alone against most other 

The guards with the dagger are the same as those with the sword. 
When both weapons are used together, different guards, such as largha and 
alta, or bassa, are assumed with either, so as to multiply the difficulty of 
attack and to facilitate countering in a different line from that of attack. 

** To proceed with the consideration of those arms which men most 
usually carry with them, we must, after the dagger, consider the cloak." 

When the cloak (capa) was resorted to for proteAion, it was seized by 
the '^ capuccio," and turned twice round the left forearm, so as to leave a 
part hanging loose. 

The loose part of the capa, "owing to its flexibility," was deemed 
capable of stopping cuts, and of sufficiently entangling the point as to be a 
protedion against thrusts, provided that the fencer took care " always to carry 
the foot differently from the arm, and not to rush into peril by having the 
forward leg on the same side as the cloak, for the cloak is no protedion if it 
have a solid part behind it." 

** The buckler being a very commodious arm and of much use," Grassi 
also considers its management '^ With the intention of making the 
brochiero, notwithstanding its small size, cover the whole of the body, it is 
necessary to hold it as far forward as possible, and always to move the arm and 
the buckler of a piece, as if there were no joints, always turning the whole 
face of the buckler towards the enemy ; in this manner the whole of the arm 
is covered. All cuts are parried in this way on the second and third parts 
of the blade, and likewise the thrusts." 

The use of the two swords together, — ^the case of swords, as it was 
called in England,— -of which Grassi speaks with great enthusiasm, was 
evidently a mere reprodudion of the sword and dagger play, the only 
difference being that more offensive adion was possible to the left hand 
armed with a sword, than with the shorter dagger. Agrippa and Marozzo 
had already taught this mode of fencing, which never could have been of 
much praftical use. 

Whether the hand buckler, the dagger, the cloak, or a second sword 
was held in the left hand, the combat was conduced in a manner very 
similar to a pugilistic encounter in modern days ; one hand was employed in 
stopping the adversary's attacks, whilst the other delivered counters, or 
" led off" in the various lines. Both combatants edged off to the right, 
or ** slipped " to the left, trying to place themselves in a position of vantage. 


Grasd, on the wIk^, introduced but few praSicai improvanents in the 
science of aims, but he reasoned rery clearly on the current theories of his 
time. Most distindly he remains inferior to Agrippa. The latter had 
made some approach to the invention of the " lunge ' — if we are to judge 
Irom his plat^ although his text oflfers no explanation on the subjed — but 
Grasm merely pursued the tradition of Marozzo's school, merely redudng the 
number of hindamental guards, and giving the preference to the pcHnt over 
the edge. Still it is to be remembered that Marozzo's system embodied the 
perfedion of the " vidlle escrime " mentioned by Rabelai^ and his principles 
were sdll sufficiently recognized to justify a reprodudion of his treatise as 
late as 1615. 

Grass's' work expounds the application of the old thewies to the freer 
employment of the point, and in it may be recognized the system most 
commonly followed in Europe during the latter part of the ^xteenth century. 

* And that of hit coDtcmponry Agocchie. See Biblio., 1 572. 


r has been already mentioned* 

that no regular fencing schools 

appear to have ensted in France 

previous to the sixteenth century. 

The first institutions of that kind 

were kept by Italian masters, some of whose 

names have come down to posterity under a 

Frenchified form : Caize, the same who taught 

the much maligned De Jarnac the famous 

"falsomanco" by which he disabled that bully 

La Chast^gncraie ; Pompee and Silvie, who 

taught at the Court of Charles IX. The 

latter is celebrated as having taught the Due 

d'Anjou, who became later Henri III., and 

who, unaccountably enough, considering his 

eiieminate charaAer, obtained the reputation 

of a ** fine lame," and even passed for one of 

the best swordsmen of his age. 

During the early part of the century, the 
German mercenaries in the pay of the French 
kings were generally resorted to for in- 
strudion in the art of fighting, as most of 
them had had some kind of regular training 
in the use of arms, and they probably in- 
Fig. 14. — Ettocade. From Lacombe's cludcd a few Marx- or Luxbriider among 
"Anne* et Armurc*." their officers. It is not astonishing, there- 

fore, that the first book published in French, 
indeed one of the first ever printed, should have borne a close resemblance 
in its teaching to that of the old German schools. 

' Chapter I. 



The anonymous author of " La noble science des joueurs d'espee " was 
probably a captain of Reitres or Lansquenets, who reproduced into French 
some of the tricks used by " Marxbriider." Indeed, the text of the book 
and its plates have a strong likeness to Lebkommer's " Der Altenn Fechter 
an fenglicke Kunst." ' 

The title itself seems but a translation of the usual elaborate titles of the 
old German Fechtbucher : 
" The noble science of fence, 
containing the chivalrous 
art of sword-play with the 
two-handed and such like 
' swords, as well as braque- 
mars (anelace) and all short 
cutlasses which are used with 
one hand." 

Like all the books of that 
period, it only professes to 
describe a coUedion of tricks 

Fig. 25. — Bnqi 

and Andace. 

apparently unconneAed by any kind of principle. 

Fig. 26 has been seleAed as showing something like " fencing " adtion, 
inosC of the others are merely " rough and tumble " encounters, in which 
wrestling and tripping play the most prominent part. 

The following short pas- 
sage, which is reproduced in 
its quaint old French, gives 
an example in point : — 

" Comment on le tiendra 
a terre, Quant il est jeAte i 
terre, si tombez sur lui au 
coste dextre avecq le genoul 
droi(5b entre ses jambes, et 
avec la main senestre tombez 
derant a son col, lui prendant 
sa defence, puis besoingnez 
a vostre plaisir."(!) 
With the exception of this little work, which by the way contains nothing 
on thesubjeift of rapier fight, the only book in the French language at that 
epoch is the " Traide contenant les secrets du premier livre sur I'espee seule, 
mere de toutes les armes, par Henri de Sainft Didier, gentilhomme Pro- 
vencal." * 

This book is looked upon by the French as the first treatise on an art 
' Sec Biblio., Germany, 1529. ' See Biblio., 1573. 

Fig. z6. — Braquemarg. — " La noble science des 


which they consider as essentially their own. It was^ however, nothing of the 
kind, but merely a colleAion of illustrations, with explanatory notices, of the 
system followed by Italian masters of the school of Marozzo — such as Pagano, 
Grassi, Agocchie — improved perhaps by a few notions derived from Agrippa's 

Although the Provencal gentleman does not openly own the first source 
of his knowledge, it is evident that he took advantage of the proximity of his 
native place to the Italian schools, to go across the border and learn the science 
which he came later to teach in Paris under the thin disguise of Gallicized 

Any book of fence, bad or good, would have met with success in Paris 
at that epoch. The old chivalrous French notion that it was unworthy of a 
gentleman to learn the cunning offence,^ had died away in those days of civil 
strife, in consequence of the too obvious disadvantage accruing therefrom in 
daily encounters. Indeed, in the early part of the century, although gentlemen 
shunned the reputation of ** bon escrimeur," it was nevertheless the custom to 
go to Italy, surreptitiously to learn the praAice of arms in the Bolognese and 
Venetian schools, and also when possible a few tricks of the trade in the shape 
of some infallible secret thrust purchased for fabulous sums from some 
redoubtable ** spadacino/' 

These arts they brought back to France and pradised on their un- 
sophisticated countrymen, with a confidence in the " botte secrete apprise en 
lointain pays " which was not always justified by the result.' 

Brantome is very full of this subjed): in his '* Discours sur les duels et 
rhodomontades," and gives a vivid description of the foolhardy manner in 
which men exposed their lives on trivial occasions. Long before Brantome 
the French had already acquired the worldwide reputation of being the most 
quarrelsome as well as frivolous of nations ; * but the latter half of the sixteenth 
century saw, with the disuse of the judicial duels, the rise of that extraordinary 
mania for private duelling which cost France in 1 80 years the useless loss of 
40,000 valiant gentlemen, killed in single combats which arose generally on the 
most futile grounds. 

About the time when SainA Didier's book appeared, the exasperation 
by political circumstances of that factious spirit which made of " Fair France " 

' ^'Dans mon enfance la noblesse fuyait la reputation de bon escrimeur et se derobait pour 
I'apprendre, comme mestier de subtilit^ ddrogeant k la vraye et naive vercu." — Montaigne, 
« Essays.** 

' " Nous allons en Italie apprendre h. escrimer et Texer^ons aux depens de nos vies avant 
de le scavoir." — Ibid. 

* ''Indiscrete nation ! Nous ne nous contentons pas de ^ire scavoir nos vices et folies au 
monde par reputation, nous allons aux nations etrang^res pour les leur faire voir en presence. 
Mectez trois Francois aux deserts de Lybie, il ne seront pas un mois ensemble sans se harceler 
et s'csgratigncr."— Ibid. 

Fg. 38, — " VoiU cc que doit fairc ledit Pre- 
voat pour soy dcfiendre dudit quairiangle circ par 
ledit Lieutenant UHillant." 


TheLJeutenant passes his right foot from the triangle to the "quatriangle," 
placing it on the footprint marked 2, and delivers a " raide estoc d'haulV • 
nails upward. (Fig. 28.) 

On his side die Prevost draws his foot back from i to 3 on the 
triangle, and"crossing" his adver- 
sary's thrust, fort on faible, nails 
up, offers a thrust at his left eye. 
Seeing 'that the Prevost has 
" shown himself clever and not 
ignorant, since he defended him- 
self well," the Lieutenant passes 
his sword under thaf of the Pre- 
vost, and carries his foot to the 
ftirther corner of the quatriangle, 
delivering a "maindraid" at the 
same time, and drawing his body 
slightly back in so doing. 

This is again parried by the 
Prevost, who crosses his op- 
ponent's sword by oflFering an 
estoc to his face, nails down. — 
" Voila ce que doit faire ledit 
Prevost pour se garder de cest 
dtte opposite qu'a tire le Lieu- 
tenant jusques icy." (Fig. 29-) 
The Lieutenant then brings 
his left foot from 2 to 3, passes 
(desrobe) his sword under that 
of his adversary, and delivers 
either a " maindraift " or an 
" estoc," which the Prevost again 
"crosses" either with a cut up- 
wards or a thrust at the face, 
nails up ; and this is " La fin 
dudit quatriangle pour ledit Prevost." (Fig. 30.) 

" After treating," says Sainft Didier towards the end of his book, *• of 
the art, order, and prafticc of the sword alone, and having defined all that 
is requisite therein, I have felt willing to teach and demonstrate four good 
and subtile ways of seizing your enemy's sword, which may be found of 
avail as well in the attack as the defence." 

Fig. 19. — " Premiere oppoiite ec mite du 

' Literally, "a siifT thrust above," An Iialitn would have called it " imbroccata." 

[^g. 30. — " S'ensuit le panchevement dudit 
quatriangle. ijui esc sur un maindroit ou esroc 
d'haulc, tire par ledit Lieuienant conire le 


One of these examples is reproduced here, as it results in the adversaries 
exchanging swords, an incident which often occurred in rapier-play.' 

The Ueutenant, who came on guard left foot foremost, delivers an 
estoc at the Prevost by passing his right foot forward. The Prevost 
draws his left foot back, crosses 
his opponent's sword, fort on 
faible, nails up, and, suddenly 
bringing his left foot a^in to 
the fixjnt, seizes the Lieute- 
nant's sword. He keeps his own 
point menacing his adversary's 
face, and tries to wrench die 
sword away. (Fig. 31.) 

" Voicy la fin de la premiere 
prinse presque exccutee par ledit 
Prevost deffcndeur centre ledit 

The Lieutenant thus finding 
himself in jeopardy, bends his 
body to the right and brings up 
his left foot, seizing at the same 
time the Prevost's hilt round the 
quillons. (Fig. 32.) 

Either party, by twisting the 
quillons of his adversary's sword, 
obtains the advantage of leverage 
overthe sword hand. The shortest 
plan at this junfture is evidently 
for either to abandon his own 
sword and continue the fight with 
that of his opponent, as is shown 
by figure 33, where the fencers 
are seen in the 7i£t of falling back 
and passing their rapier from the 
left hand to the right. 

S»nift Didier's exercises are 
illustrated by a succession of sixty-four woodcuts. The set reproduced 
in this book is chosen as representing the most complicated systems of 
steps in the whole of S^nft Didier's work. These woodcuts, although 
quite correft as regards the costumes, represent the aftors armed with an 

' Shakespeare ihows himself aa well acquiioted with the art of fence as with mo»t other 
tubjefls in his stage dircAion concerning the fencers in the last afl of " Hamlet." 

Pig. ji. — " Premier coup tire sur le main- 
droit ou ettoc-d'hault, pour la premiere prinse 
par le Lieutenant ei presque executce par le Pre- 
vost, comme icy eit monstrc." 


Utterly conventional weapon. It is needless to remark that the swords 
used in personal combat at that period were never so heavy and clumsy 
as they ar« therein shown. Even the weighty "estocade," the favourite 
arm of the French, — to which, by the way, Samft Didier seems exclusively to 
devote his attention, — was incom- 
parably slenderer. 

It seems at first remarkable 
that when SainA Didier went to 
Italy to seek the principles of a 
science then considered so essen- 
tially Italian, he should not have 
adopted those of the most " pro- 
nounced " masters, who advocated 
the almost exclusive use of the 
point and the ** spada lungha." '' 
But it is probable that the old- 
^shioned prejudice in favour of 
hard knocks existed in France as 
it did in England at the same 
period, and that the mass of 
fencers only reludtandy admitted 
the superiority of a punAuring 
play. Consequently Grassi'sand 
Agocchie's system, applying as it 
did to the French " estocade," was 
adopted as more suitable to the 
general taste. 

But there is no doubt that the 
rapier-play after the manner of 
Cavalcabo and Fatvis was also in 
high favour among the " raffines " 
— the insatiable duellists of the 
Courts of Charles IX. and Henri 

Sainft Didier himself was well acquainted with the new method, 
although he did not acknowledge its superiority. He gives, at the end of 
his book, the account of a discussion he had on theoretical grounds with two 
masters of that school — one of which is the " Napolitain Fabrice," who 
may have been connected with Salvator Fabris, as the profession of arms ran 
more in families then than now. The chief point of the discussion was. 

Fig. 3*1 — " A priDK faut ftirc centre prime 
comme est icy moDstre par ce Lieutenant au 
Pre vol t," 

Fig. 33. — " Voila la iin de la contreprinse 
executes par le Lieutenant contre le Prevost." 

' Viggia 

!\ Venice, Fabri* in Padua, Patenostrier in Rome, Cavalcabo in Bologna. 


whether it was possible to classify thrusts into various categories and make 
a more frequent use of them than was advocated by the French master, 
a theory which the latter flatters himself to have proved false on every 

At the conclusion of the work a parallel is introduced between the 
fencing art and the game of tennis,' in which the author applies the 

Fig- 34- — Prima guardia difeneiva im- Fig. 35. — Second* guardia alta ofieDsiva 

p«rfctta rormata dal cingeni la spada al perfetta ; rormata dal rouescio Rscendente, 

manco lato, da cui naKe il rouescio da cui aaact la punta sopramano offensira ; 

aacendente, — Viggiani. 6 iniicra ; b noD intiera. — Viggiani. 

expressions *' rcnvcrs " and *' maindraifts " to the different ways of taking 
the ball, although he acknowledges the necessity of stopping the simile short 
of "estoc," "veu que raquette n'a potns dc pointe." 

Although the art of fence was nowhere of greater use than in France, 
we must return to Italy to watch Its development. Two other Italian books 
are extant, both printed in Venice about the same period. 

" The three books of Fence " of Giovanni ddl* Agocchie * need not be 
considered after Grassi ; but Viggiani's work * is worthy of attention as it 
professes to be original, and indeed contains some indications of the new 
school, namely, that in which " passing " tends to be replaced by the " lunge." 

1 Jeu de paume. * See Biblio., 1571. ' See Biblio., 1575. 


Agrippa had already foreshadowed the theoretical advantage of that 
mode of progression, but his system was not sufficiently well defined to 
upset the apparently more natural habit of passing right and left. Unfortu- 
nately for his glory as a fence-master, Viggiani was not bold enough in his 
innovations to apply the principles of his celebrated "punta sopramano " to 

Pig. 36. — Terza guardia, alta, ofien- Fig. 37. — Quarca goardia larga, diSensiva, 

liva, imperretta ; fbrmata dal rouescio imperfetta ; fonnata dalla panta inttera sopra- 

atcendenie, da cui naice un mandritto, mano, da cui nasce it rouescio ritoodo. — 

descendence, b intiero o mezo. — Viggiani. Viggiani. 

all attacks, so that after all he remains one of the followers of Marozzo, 
instead of bang the founder of the modem school — an honour which was 
reserved for Giganti and Capo Ferro. 

Although the first edition bears the date of 1575, it is known that in 
deference to the author's wish his book appeared long after his death, and 
that it was finished in 1560. His teaching was then contemporary with 
Agrippa' s, perhaps with Marozzo's. His pnnciples were in a great measure 
similar to those of the former, but, in pomt of theory, he went very much 

In his treatise Viggiani professes to expose a new and peculiar mode 


of fencing, and as there is internal evidence that his method was carried into 
Germany and praftised and published by Meyer — the best authority on 
matters of fence in that country at the time — this book is of high interest, 
notwithstanding that the writer did not create a distinift school in Italy. 

" Lo Schermo d'Angelo Viggiani " is divided into three parts, the first 
of which treats of the inevitable comparison between literature and the 

Fig. 38. — Quints guardia siretti, difen- Pig. 39. — Sesia guirdia larga, offeniiva 

siva,perfcita ; nata dalla meza punta sopra* imperfetta ; pirtortia dal roucscio intiero 

mano, ofieniiva, da cui nasce un meso difeniivo, da cui naicera i1 raaiettarsi in 

roucicio tondo. — Viggiani. guardia alca offensiva ; perfetta. — Viggiani. 

science of arms> the second of oflence and defence. A few of the headings 
of this part will suffice to show in what a tough matrix of nonsense these 
preposterous philosophic masters of the sixteenth century imbedded their 
precious principles : " Difesa negli animal!, nelle piante," ** Prudenza della 
pantera et dell' clefante," " Perche no si possa per la difesa prendere argu- 
mento dal cielo," " Perche si movesse il serpente ad ingatinare t'huomo," 
and so on for some forty pages. 

Happily, however, the third part treats pretty exclusively of fencing, 
and therein is to be learned that Vtggiani taught seven guards. Most of 
them have resemblance to MaroziK)'S] as far as the position of the arm is 


concerned, but thejr are divested of their fanciful names and only bear 
distinguishing numbers. They are widely different also in this respeft, that 
the right foot is always in front and at the same distance — about thirty 
inches — from the left. 

Viggiani teaches the same " mandritte " and " rinversi " as all the other 
masters of his day, but gives the preference to the latter as being more 
quickly delivered and possessed of greater power. He pays, however, special 

Pig. 40. — Setcimi guardia icretta ofieniiva, perfetta, partorita dal 
mczD roueicio diFeoBivo ; da cui nascer potri il ratsettani in guardia 
alta offenaiva pcrfetta. — Vig^aai. 

attention to the thrust, which he considers vastly su[>erior to the cut, and 
whereas all his predecessors only recognized one sort of thrust in a general 
way, Viggiani classifies minutely the diiferent positions in which the point 
may be used. 

Funta dritta, delivered from the right'. (Hand in pronation.) 
Punta rovescia, delivered from the left. (Hand in supination.) 
Each of these is further subdivided into ascending, descending, or 
straight thrusts. 

Punta dritta (o rovescia) ascendcnte. 
„ „ „ descendente. 

)> >. » ferma. 



His seven guards are shown in the figures. 

Viggiani calls a guard perfed when it admits of the delivery of a thrust ; 
imp^rfeft, that which does not ; a distinftion in accordance with his predi- 
ledion for the use of the point, in the cut and thrust fencing of his day, e.g. 
the second, fifth, and seventh guards are " perfeft." 

He calls " strait," a guard in which the point is held in line with the 

Fig. 41 . — Classification of the Guards. — Viggiani. 

adversary, and " open," one in which the point is held away ; ** offensive,** 
when the sword is held on the right side; ** defensive," when it is held 
on the left. This terminology suggests the usual mode of parrying an 
attack by a counter. As, in his estimation, the quickest and most powerful 
cuts are the "rovesci," he naturally calls a position favourable to the 
delivery of a " rovescio " a *' defensive " guard. Indeed, he looks upon a 
^ rovescio tondo " as an almost universal parry, which may even break the 



adversary's blade, and which he considers '* perfeift " if it be immediately 
followed by a " punta sopramano." 

This famous " punta sopramano," which contains the first perfeiftly 
dear indication of a " lunge," is a favourite " botta " with Viggiani, who 
performs it from all those guards he calls *' perfeft," 

" When thou shalt have a mind to deliver a 'punta sopramano,' see 
that the right foot advance one great step, and immediately let thy left arm 
fall, and let the right shoulder at the same time press the arm forwards, 
dropping the point slightly downwards from above, and aiming the while at 
my chest, without in any way turning the hand. Push thy point as far as 
ever thou canst." 

All these particulars, as well as many others of interest to philosophers 
alone, are imparted under the form of a dialogue between the " most illus- 
trious Signor Luigi Gonzaga, called • Rodoraonte/" and the "excellent 
Messer Lodovico Boccadiferro, philosopher." 

In the third part the " Conte d'Agomonte " ts introduced to give his 
opinion of knotty points of discussion. 

Thirteen years later a new edition of Viggiani's work was produced by 
Zacharia Cavalcabo, in Bologna. Here the author's name is spelt " Vizani," 
in deference probably to the habit of hearing it so pronounced by the soft- 
mouthed Venetians, his pupils. 


MT is a remarkable fad that in 
j Sp^tij the supposed birthplace of 
iA systematic swordsmanship, so 
M little progress should have been 
made towards what may be called 
the more praSlical use of the sword. Whilst 
the Italians, and, after their example, the 
French, Germans, and English, gradually 
discovered that simplification led to perfec- 
tion, the Spanish masters, on the contrary, 
seemed to aim at making fencing a more 
and more mysterious science, requiring for 
its praftice a knowledge of geometry and 
natural philosophy, and whose principles were 
only explainable on metaphysical grounds. 

Carranza's is the first of the long series of 
ponderous Spanish treatises on the " raison 
demonstrative," in which the ruling principle, 
after the Aristotelian method, is the " conoci- 
miento de la cosa por su causa," and the 
purpose, to demonstrate that a perfeft theo- 
retical knowledge must infallibly lead to 

p. c ■ L c J n 1 viAory, notwithstanding grievous physical 

Fig. 41. — Spanish Sword. Early .■ . ' , ,^.1 . o b * l- l 

■ ' - • ■ ' disadvantage.' 1 his arrogant theory, which 

applied no better to the long rapier than to 

any other weapon, was unfortunately so 

plausibly expounded by the early masters as to ruin any prospeA of improve- 

' " The book of Jcronimo de Carranza ireacing of the philowphy of arm* and the 
dexterous mastery thereof, as well as of Christian attack and defence." See Biblia., 1581. 

' This figure, which represents imperfeflly the celebrated sword of Gonzalvode Cordova, 
now in the Armtria Realoi Madrid, shows an early shape of pas d'Sne hilt. 


ment in the Spanish schools, where it was never discarded. The French foil 
fencing has now all but absolutely driven away the Spanish rapier-play from 
the Peninsula. 

Carranza informs his reader that his book was finished in 1 569, when a 
few copies were printed by command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, but 
it was only issued for circulation in 1582, and appeared simultaneously at 
San Luca de Barrameda and at Lisbon. 

As the title leads one to anticipate, there is as much of the author's 
ethical and theological theories In this celebrated work as of swordsmanship 
proper. Its produfSion, joined to Carranza's reputation as " esgrimidor," 
certainly entitled him to the name of "inventor of the science of arms," of 

Pig- 43* — Gaining the advantage by traversing (ganando Iob grados 
a1 perfil). The two groups represent the two stages of the ifUon. 
Adapted from Girard Thibaust. 

that Spanish science at least that based its principles on the mathematical 
relation of angles to their subtending arcs, of tangents and chords to their 
circle, and all that pompous nonsense which Quevedo, a century later, ridicules 
so finely' when he describes a scientific " espadachin " put into a corner by 
an uninitiated but resolute antagonist, notwithstanding the faft that the former 
had " ganado los grades al perfil," the infellible result of which operation 
should have been complete mastery. 

A second edition of Carranza's book was published in 1600, in all 
respefts amilar to the former, together with the first of that long series 
^ " Vida del Gran Tacaiio." 


of works, either by Don Luis Pacheco de Narvaez, or about him, which 
forms nearly the whole literature of fencing in Spain during the seventeenth 

As Narvaez's first produftion embodies all the principles of Carranza, 
it will be better to analyze summarily his *' Book of the Grandeur of the 
Sword, in which are expounded many secrets of the works composed by the 
Commander G. de Carranza, and with which everyone will be able to teach 
himself and learn without the necessity of a master to direft him." *' Com- 
posed by Don Luis Pacheco de Narvaez, native of the town of Sevilla, 
&c,, &c., and dedicated to Don Philip III., King of All the Spains, and of the 
greater Part of the World, our Master." 

Don Luis Pacheco de Narvaez, as a pupil of Carranza, reproduces in 
every detail the charaderistic method of the " primer inventor de la ciencia," 
and introduces for its explanation curious little diagrams, in which the adver- 
saries' bodies are represented by a small circle, and the relative positions of 
the blades at the final moment are figured by two conventional swords crossed 
at various angles, either piercing or tangent to the small circles according as 
the blow is thrust or cut. 

After an immense amount of grave disquisition on the necessity of self- 
defence imposed on man by laws human and divine, and on the praiseworthy 
occupation of perfefting oneself in the art of arms for the confusion of 
heretics and the protection of Church and King " from the tyrants who per- 
secute them," supported by the most logical arguments in the world, the 
author at last begins to mix some questions of swordsmanship to his discourse. 
Then we are able to find out that the guard advocated at the middle of the 
sixteenth century was in all essentials the same as that represented by Angelo 
as the Spanish guard at the end of the eighteenth. 

** The body ered, but in such manner that the heart be not diredly 
opposite the adversary's sword ; the right arm extended straight, the feet 
not too much open. . . • . Three advantages derive from these principles, 
the point of the sword is carried nearer to the adversary, the sword itself is 
held with greater force, and there is no danger of a wound on the elbow." 
There is no question of" engaging " swords. The adversaries are to fall on 
guard out of measure, and, in order to systematize the general notions of 
correft distance, Carranza and his illustrator Narvaez imagine a circle drawn 
on the ground — " circonferencia imaginata entre los cuerpos contrarios." 

The opponents on guard are to be at opposite ends of the diameter, 
whose length is regulated by the eflTeftive length of the arm, with the sword 
extended horizontally as explained before. Tangent to the circle, and at the 
opposite ends of the diameter, are imagined two parallel lines, which are called 
infinite — "lineas infinitas" — for the simple reason that both adversaries 
might travel for ever along these lines together without altering for any 


pradical purpose their relative positions. On the other hand, either com- 
batant who crosses the space between these parallels, that is, who travels 
along any chord of the imaginary circle, immediately comes ** within mea- 
sure ; " since the longest chord of a circle is its diameter, as soon as the 
opponents are separated by any other, they are within striking distance. 
The result of any step taken by one of the fencers may be of three kinds : 
either his opponent takes a corresponding one along the circumference of the 
circle, so that they remain at the extremity of a diameter and nothing is 
altered, or he may strike him as he passes, or be struck himself should he 
miss his " time." These two latter cases may also be modified by the pos- 
sibility of parry ing the blow by a coimter. But as the chief objedl of " passing " 
is to place your adversary in a disadvantageous position for parrying, he who 
succeeds in "passing" within striking distance of his adversary without being 
" timed," has the obvious advantage. This danger of being stopped by a 
time thrust is methodically graduated in Narvaez's book according to the 
angle along which the pace is made, for it is obvious that a pace of a given 
length would bring a man nearer to his adversary, posted at its opposite ex- 
tremity, than the same pace along any other chord.* 

His " Llave y gobierno de la destreza " is merely a technical expres- 
sion of the instinft which prompts two boxers to walk round each other when 
not adually striking, and which is illustrated even by the adtions of animals, 
as anyone knows who has watched two dogs or two cocks about to fight. 
These side movements remained obviously necessary in fencing as long as 
no improved method of " engaging " swords had been recognized. 

Anything approaching to a lunge seems to have been altogether unknown. 
The most approved method was to advance with short steps at an obtuse 
angle with the diameter — always menacing the adversary with the point — 
and to avoid all violent movements. 

The various " compases " are : " pasada," or a step of about twenty-four 
inches ; " pasada simple," about thirty inches ; and " pasada doble," consisting 
of two " pasadas " stepped with alternate feet. 

With regard to the combatants taken separately, various propositions of 
Euclid are employed to map out the space occupied by the human body; 
some of the disquisitions are very quaint, if not of much concern to the 
pradical swordsman. 

** But you should know," says the father of the science of arms, *' that 
the body of man, besides being spherical, as we have explained before, also 
oflFers to our consideration two lines : one joins the head to the feet and is 
called, according to Euclid, perpendicular, and, according to astronomers, 
vertical ; another, when the arms are held open, joins one to the other. We 

^ ** Por la linea del diametro no se puede caminar sin peligro " was looked upon as an 
irrefutable axiom among *' diescros." 



call it, still according to Euclid, * linea de contingencia,' or tangent line, and, 
according to astronomers, ' horizontal.* " 

The space measured by the dimensions of these two lines is that in 
which efFeAual strokes can be made. 

Carranza devotes most attention to the cut, and, although using the 
thrust very freely, he gives exaft definitions of the former, but none of the 
latter. Narvaez, however, has a good deal more to say about the thrust, but 
again without any definition of the manner in which it is delivered. It was 
evidently given like a stab with a jerk, the most natural way, after all, of 
striking on a " pass." 

The cuts are clearly divided into : arrebatar (which means to cut with the 
whole arm from the shoulder) ; mediotajo (a cut from the elbow — " doblando 
la coyuntura del codo ") ; mandoble (a cut from the wrist, a flip of the po'mt — 
the Italian " stramazzone," in faft). 

The same expressions are applied to the parries, showing once more, 
what is implied without explanation by all authors of that period, that parries 
were always made by means of counter attacks. 

With these premises, it was the scholar's part to learn and pradise a 
number of passes applicable to as many forms of attack as possible. Both 
Carranza and Pacheco de Narvaez take a vast number of cases, and explain what 
is to be done on every movement of the adversary, varying the complication 
of the passes according as his adion is ^* violenta, natural, remissa, de reduccion, 
extrano o accidental," and according as his stature and habit be tall or short, 
muscular or nervous, choleric or phlegmatic, &c. 

It seems incredible, at first sight, that fencing taught on such very artificial 
principles could ever have been found of much praftical use. But, as a matter 
of faft, Spaniards enjoyed during the whole of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries the reputation of being very dangerous duellists, a faft which may 
be explained by the habit of coolness developed by those methodical notions, 
and the necessity of constant and careful pra<5tice for the acquisition of even a 
rudimentary " destreza," starting from such principles. 

Long habit in wielding a sword, even with imper fed method, is of course 
of immense material use, and the more so with a heavy weapon requiring 
great strength for its management. 

Twelve years after the publication of his great work, Narvaez issued 
an appendix to it, and in 1625 printed* a kind of handbook of fencing.* 

Although these books appeared quite outside the period which is now 
being described, they may be noticed among the early treatises of fencing, for 
no material improvement on Carranza's method — beyond a freer use of the 
point — was introduced into the Spanish school. The greater part of the 

1 See Biblio., Spain, 161 2, 1625. " New and easy method of self-examination in the art 
of fencing, for the use of masters, explaining its hundred conclusions or points of knowledge." 


book is devoted to the exposition of those principles here briefly noticed, 
and to their illustration in the shape of dialogues on special cases. At the 
end, however, is found a description of the order in which instru<5tion is to be 
imparted to the pupil. 

" It imports first to inform the scholar of all the simple and complex 
movements which the arm can perform^ as well as those which belong to the 
sword. . . . 

" Also the six * re6litudines' — ^whether simple or compound : how, for 
instance, a right angle is that which most shortens the distance from your 
adversary, and is the most favourable to the defence ; ... to make him 
acquainted with the lines, collateral and diagonal, which can be considered in 
the body, and how strokes are made therein. . . . To this ought to succeed 
a description of the paces, whether simple or compound, which foot ought 
to take them, and what paces are common to both. . • . Then a description 
of the circle which is imagined between the two combatants, with its chords 
and its lines of infinity ; and how, within this, are the passes to be per- 
formed. . . . 

** The master should pay great attention to the angles resulting from the 
meeting of the blades, and show the scholar how, whether in delivering the 
attack or making what is called ^' ganancia," ^ the angles must needs be four 
in number, and either all four right angles, or two obtuse and two acute ; he 
should impress on him that angles formed by the swords meeting at the middle 
of their length are the most favourable for the defence, whereas acute and 
obtuse angles are better suited to defence and oflTence combined. . . . 

" He should tell him that there are only two modes of performing 
strokes in fencing, one being the result of the position of the sword, and 
the other being by *ganando los grados al perfil.'* . . . That in fencing 
there are only five strokes : cut, reverse, thrust, half cut, and half reverse,* 
and explain to him how to perform the various movements composing 
each stroke, whether the sword be free or engaged. . . . To show him 
how the sword is to be held in the hand, and how important to hold it 
firmly in order that the force communicated by the body through the arm 
may be received by the blade, and its movements be strong and rapid. . . . 
That we should always come on guard at right angles, with the arm straight 
and without allowing the hand to waver high or low, or to either side. . . . 
That the body should be held profite-wise, equally poised on both feet, one 

' This is the ** guadagnare di spada '* of the Italians — covering oneself on the march by 
forcibly engaging the adversary's blade. The '* ganancia,*' however, was a notion unknown to 

^ Literally, ^' gaining the degrees to the profile/' i,e. gaining the advantage by successive 
steps round the adversary. 

* " Tajo, revcs, estocada, medio tajo y medio rcves." Ha/f cuts or reverse were more or 
\c%^ flipping cuts, from the right or the left respcftively. 


heel being in front of the other, but at no greater distance than half a fobt, 
in such a way that if the left foot turned on its heel^ its point would just 
touch the heel of the rights . . • He should teach him the four general 
strokes, and on what occasions each has the advantage. ... It would be 
better that the pupil should never * play loose ' — ' batallar ' — ^at the begin- 
ning, nor even draw the sword except with the master himself, until he be 
thoroughly instrufted, as well in the practice as in the theory." 

AU the points of theory that really bear on fencing have been touched 
in this sketch ; but there are a great many more which the author explains, 
with the utmost grsurity, as being of importance to a thorough understanding 
of this difficult science ; such as, for instance, a knowledge of the exaft 
number of different angles that the various parts of the human body can form 
between themselves. It appears, from his calculation, that this number is 

It was only natural that teachers of a system so elaborately worked out 
in all its aspefts should believe in the absolute infallibility of well-performed 
passes, at least on the supposition that the opponent aAed according to the 
rules of this complicated game. The following naive passage is picked from 
a dialogue between master and disciple. 

" Disciple. — In all strokes which can be done perfedt in * matter, form, 
and execution,' there must be one person who aAs and another who suffers 
thereby. The first can do no more than, nor even can he help that the latter 
should suffer bodily by receiving the stroke. 

" Master. — That point I must needs concede, for I cannot deny it." 

Carranza seems to have done for Spain what Marozzo did for Italy, 
namely, to have collefted the most approved tricks of swordsmanship in 
favour among the various teachers of his day — whether " diestros" and 
members of the corporation of fencing-masters, or mere « espadachinos " 
and adventurers full of experience — and to have reduced them to a system. 
But, unlike Marozzo, he spoilt the pradical value of his book by his insup- 
portable prolixity. 

Carranza and Don Luis Pacheco were household names in England 
about the end of the sixteenth century, if their frequent occurrence in 
the works of the dramatists of that period is any criterion.^ 

. " They had their time and we can say they were, so had Carranza, so 
has Don Lewis. . . . Don Lewis of Madrid is the sole master now of the 
world.'* « 

The Germans, as we have seen, were always great fencers ; with the 

^ Ben Jonson especially^ passim^ e.g., '' Every Man in his Humour," where Captain 
Bobadil, the Paul's man, is so full of the great Carranza. 
» Id., " The New Inn." 


h'ig. 44. — Rapier-phy id German Schools aboui 1570. — Meyer. 

"Diisack" and the " Schwerdt " — national weapons in Germany, as were 
the sword and buckler in England — they were, no doubt, second to none. 
But those were forms of the sword which were des- 
tined to disappear before the more elegant and even 
more praftical " Feder." In this respedt, notwith- 
standing the renown of her fencing schools, Germany 
was in the same position as France and England, and 
had to follow the lead of Italian masters. But although 
Germans originated little or nothing in the rapier-play, 
they pra<5tiscd it with a remarkable vigour, and were 
always more or less independent of foreign teachers, 
contenting themselves with translating and assimilating 
Fig.4s.— AGermanGuard, their works. It will be seen that at most times Ger- 
*^'^/.''d* ^"""''S^c""'' •"*" treatises were, as far as the rapier and small 
appir, J, . g^Qpj 3^g concerned, either translations or imitations 
of French or Italian books. Lebkommer, however, 
who dealt with the national weapons only, was original, and even had imitators 
out of Germany. 


Fig. 46. — Meyer's Fencing School. The master teaching the " punta 
sopramano" of Viggiant. The radii drawn on the target indicate ihe 
direflion of the cut», which are the tame as thote lau^t by Marozzo. 
The footprints indicate the previous position of the feet during a pass or 

Meyer's celebrated work, which appeared in 1570, contains in a more 
systematic shape an equally 
complete account of the use of 
the popular weapons, ** Dii- 
sack," " Schwerdt," " Helle- 
parten," and " Pflegel " (hal- 
bert and flail), together with a 
thorough system of the rapier, 
imitated from that of Grassi 
and Vigviani. . Although a 
" Marxbruder " withal, the 
** Freifechter " of Strasburg had 
not been above going to Italy 
in search of the latest informa- 
tion concerning the new fashion 

in sword-play. Indeed, it may pjg ^^_f^ German Guard with Sword and 

be said that he pushed the prac- Dagger. This ia obviously Agrippa's fourth guard. 
tice of this outlandish weapon 
to a high state of perfeftion. Fig. 46 shows Meyer instrufting a pupil in 


that imperfeft lunge that was apparently invented by Viggiani,* and fig. 1 1 
represents him in the atft of teaching the Italian master's fourth guard, 
whilst fig. 47 is an energetic reproduAion of one of Agrippa's attitudes 
with sword and dagger. The old-fashioned " Schwerdt " and '• Diisack " 
were still pradised in Germany long after the use of similar weapons — the 

Lager dcs Ochiena — Lager dci Pflugi. Schranckhut — Hangetort.* 

Fig. 48. — The Schwerdt. — J. Sutor. 

claymore, the "spadone** and the "montanto" — had been discarded by 
other countries. Nearly all the early Italian authors, also, describe incidentally 
the pratfHce of the " spadone," but as that weapon could, at any time, have 
but the remotest influence on the development of rapier-play, it need not be 
noticed here otherwise than superficially. 

The chief requisite for the two-handed sword was great muscular strength 

combined with suppleness of the wrists. 

The point was rarely used, and the cuts 

were nearly the same, and bore the same 

names, as those of the sword and " Diisack; " 

the only difference was that they were all 

sweeping. The objefl: aimed at in pradice 

was a combined and opposite aAion of the 

two hands on the grip round an imaginary 

fulcrum. The sword being held with the 

left hand near or on the pummel, and the 

Fig. +9.— Praaice at ihe Target with "g^t near the quUlons, in ail cuts delivered 

ihe Diuack.— J. Suiorium. from the right the left hand was drawn 

backwards and the right pressed forward, 

and in ail cuts delivered from the left the aAion was the same, but the arms 

were crossed. On the blade of the " Zweyhander " and the "spadone" 

' Viggiani'i book, written towarcb the end of the mMter's life, was only printed many 
yean after hit death. His school flourished in Venice between 155; and 1563. 
* The ox, the plough, the crois guard, the hanging guard. 



there were generally a pair of hornlike projcdions situated about a foot below 
the guard ; these afted as a second guard ^ when it was found necessary to 
shift the pummel hand, either on account of the impossibility on certain 

Fig, 50. — The Diisack. — Countering a cut. 

occasions of crossing the arms, or when it was necessary to shorten the 
weapon in the assault. In such a case, the hand which was previously 


Fig. 51. — German Dusacks. 

nearer the pummel was carried below the guard and grasped the blade — 
which was blunted at that point — under the proteftion of the horns. 
The parries were likewise similar to those 
practised with the sword, namely, counter- 
ing blows across the adversary's line of 
attack, with the purpose either of breaking 
his guard and striking him at one and the 
same time, or, by throwing his weapon out 
of line^ to make room for a second cut in 
time. Precisely the same principles were 
applied to the use of the ^^Dusack." 

Forty years later, the work of another 
" Marxbruder " appeared in Frankfurt and 

achieved a great reputation in Germany, notwithstanding the fad that it 
was but a feeble imitation of Meyer. Although Jacob Sutor belonged to 
the flourishing epoch of Fabris, Giganti, and Capo Ferro's teaching, the 
rapier-play he describes shows even less perfedipn than that of Meyer. 

' This second guard is not shown in Sutor's figures. 

Fig. 52.^ — The Rappier. — ^J. Sutor. 


The Germans seem to have followed the example of Marozzo and 
Agocchie in the fanciful names of their guards. 

The most usual were : — 

Oberbut, Underhut^ zur rechten oder zur Uuken (upper and under guards, 
to the right and to the left), being, in faA, the becca cesa and the coda lunga 
e larga of Marozzo. 

Eisenportf similar to cinghiara porta diferro. 

Rechle oder linke Ochs, which recalls the guardia ifalicorno, the unicorn 
guard of Agocchie. 

Langort, similar in meaning to coda lunga e distesa. 

There were many other attitudes preliminary to such strokes zsSchedel- 
hau oder Oberhau (skull or top-cut) ; Schielkau (skew or cross-cut) ; Hiifft- 
hau (hip-cut) ; Halsshau (neck-cut) ; Handhau, Fusshau, Mit/e/bau, Doppelkau 
(hand, foot, middle, and double-cuts) ; Rundistreich, Doppelrundtstrekh 
(round and double round strokes], &c.; also Dempffhau^ probably from 
dampfen, to quell — an " extinguisher," in faft. 

Fig- S3- — Lansqucneite or Landikaefbfi sword. Showing iKe chief chanfleristics of the 

broadsword commonly worn by German foot-men in the siTtccnth century. Its prafticc in 
fencing was essentially the same as that of the Dii sack— length of blade about two feet. (The 
above sword was found on the north bank of the Thames near Westminster ; it is described 
in the Journal of the Archxological Institute, vol. zxxiii., p. 92, from which the illustration 
is taken.) 


J HE only English treatise on the rapier-play of the sixteenth 

1 century, besides a translation of Grassi's work,' is " Vincetitio 

Saviolo, his Praftise, in two bookes, the first intreating of the 

use of the Rapier and Da^er, the second of Honor and 

Honorable quarrels." 

This work, which seems to have excited much jealousy among his con- 
freres, is dedicated '* as a new yeares gift" " To the Right Honorable, my 
singular good Lx>rd, Robert, Earle of Essex and Ewe, Viscount Hereford, 
Lord Ferrers of Chartley, Bourchier and Louain, Master of the Queene's 
Majesties horse. Knight of the most noble order of the Garter and one of her 
Highnesse's most honorable privie councell." 

Saviolo, though to a smaller extent than his brother swordsmen of Italy 
and Spain, cannot refrmn in his introdudion from giving his opinion about 
letters and arms in general and their respedive position and merit, and 
introducing Minerva with other myths and present entities, whilst he agree- 
ably discusses whether the art and exercise of the rapier and dagger " is not 
much more rare and excellent than ante other, considering that a man, 
having the perfecft knowledge and pradice of this art, although of small 
stature and weaker strength, may, with a httle removing of his foot, a 
sodaine turning of his hand, a slight declining of his body, subdue and over- 
come the fierce braving pride of tall and strong bodyes." 

This popular teacher was a master of his art, to judge from the report 
of fame and from the inherent qualities of his treatise. His progression, as 
moderns would call the systematic arrangement of his passes, is very cleverly 
devised, and as far as can be seen he was acquainted with both Spanish and 
Italian fashions. Indeed, he boasted that " he had changed five or six 
sundrie manners of plaies, taught by divers masters, and reduced unto one by 
no little labour and paine." 

If, however, he made no great advance towards a more cffeftual system 
of fencing, he had the merit of having been able to demonstrate the most 
' Sec Biblio. True art of defence, 1 594. 


usual praAlces without the mysterious tracing of diagrams^ circles, chords^ 
and tangents, so dear to authors of the continental schools. 

The lessons take the form of dialogues between master, Vincentio, and 
scholar, Luke, sometimes philosophical^ sometimes pra&ical, always very 
wise indeed, and dogmatic on the master's side, but candid and na'ifs on the 

" Luke. — ^You have with so many reasons and proofes shewed the 
necessitie of this worthie art, that in truth I greatly esteem and honor it. 
But, I pray you of freenship, tell me how there can be such disagreement^ 
since all that art consisteth of downe right or crosse blowes, thrustes, foynes, 
or overthwart prickes." This the master explsdns by the diversity of 
methods and weapons in use, and expounds the faft, which was found out by 
the earliest teachers, and is to this day insisted upon by all fencing-masters, 
^' that the true foundation from whence you may learne all things belonging 
to this art is the Rapier alone. Moreover, all men of valour and quality 
have a Rapier, with a point and two edges, by their sides." 

Saviolo, separating from the Spanish school, is not of opinion that the 
rapier should be held with the two first fingers under the cup or guard. 

" Vincent. — For your Rapier, holde it as you shall thinke fit and com- 
modious for you : but I might advise you should not holde it after this 
fashion, and especially with the second finger in the hilte. For holding it in 
that sorte, you cannot reach so far, either to strike diredt or crosse blows, or 
give a foyne or thruste. 

" I would have you put your thumb on the hilte " — Saviolo means the 
quillons — ** and the next finger toward the edge of the Rapier." 

Nevertheless, not the faintest attempt in the figures accompanying the 
text is made to represent either the hilt then in fashion, or the manner of 
holding the rapier ; the weapon shown is of the most conventional type. 

Next comes the question of guards, of which indeed, at the time^ as 
Saviolo confesses, there were a **diversitie." 

** Vincent. — I come therefore to the point and say : that when the 
teacher will enter his scholler, he shall cause him to stand upon his ward ; so 
the teacher shall deliver the Rapier into his hand and shall cause him to stand 
with his right foote formost, with his knee somewhat bowing : but that his 
bodye rest more upon his left legge, not steadfast and firm, as some standi 
which seem to be nailed to the place, but with a readinesse and nimblenesse ; 
as though he were to perform some feate of aftivitie. 

** And in this sort let them stand, both to strike and to defend themselves. 
Now when the Maister hath placed his scholler in this sorte, and the scholler 
hath received his Rapier in his hand, let him make his hand free and at liberty, 
not by force of the arme, but by the nimble and ready moving of the joint 
of the wriste of the hand, so that his hand be free and at liberty from his 

body and that the ward of his hand be diredlye against his right knee. And 
let the teacher also put himsclfe in the same ward and holde his Rapier 
against the midst of his schoUers Rapier, so that the pointe be direftlye 
agwnst the face of his scholler, and likewise his scholler's against his. And 
let their fecte be right one gainst another. Then shall the Maister begin 
to teach him, moving his right foote somewhat on the right side in circle 
wise, putting his Rapier under his 
scholler's Rapier and giving him a 
thruste in the bellye. 

" LMke. — And what then must the 
scholler do ? *' — L. is evidently some- 
what alarmed. 

"Vincent. — Attheself same time the 
scholler must remove, with like measure 
or counter time, with his right foote, 
a little aside, and let the left foote follow 
the right, turning a little his bodye on 
the right side, thrusting with the point 

of his Rapier at the bellye of his teacher. Fig. 54.— Saviolo'i Guard with the 

turning redily his hand, that the fingers Rapier alone, 

be inward toward the body, and the 

joint of the wriste be outward. In this sorte the SMde scholler shall learne to 
strike and not be stricken. And I alwaies advise noblemen and gentle- 
men that, if they cannot hit and hurt their enemy, that they teame to defend 
themselves that they be not hurt." 

Continuing the lesson, Saviolo shows his scholar how he beats away the 
thrust, and recovering, delivers a " crosse blowe" — mandritta — at his oppo- 
nent's head. At this instant the scholar is to pass forward with his left foot and 
deliver a foyne, an imbroccata^ lifting his guard to meet the blow. This new 
thrust the teacher avoids by caving his body ; very little caving obviously 
would suffice in this case. 

Thus the bouts succeed each other, master and scholar passing right 
and left, thrusting imbroccatas and stoccatas, and parrying them either with 
the left hand, or by escaping backwards or sideways ; returning with man- 
drittas or downright cuts, which in their turn are stopped by counter thrusts 
dehvered with a high opposition. 

Saviolo has already volunteered the information that he teaches the 
cream of many schools ; hitherto his pradice has been essentially Italian, 
after the method of Grassi. The following bout, however, is essentially 
Spanish : — 

" Vine. — At the same time that the Maister shall give the said mandritta, 
the scholler shall doo nothing else but turne the point of his foote toward the 


bodye of his Maister and let the middest of his left foote direftlye respeA 
the heele of his right : and let him turn his bodye upon the right side, but 
let it reste and staye upon the lefte and in the same time let him turn his 
Rapier hand outward in the stoccata or thrust, that the point may be toward 
the bellye of his Maister, and let him lift up his hande and take good heede 
that he come not forward in delivering the saide stoccata. This is half in- 

When the scholar has become familiar with the art of passing sideways 
and *^ with great readiness thrusting his Rapier into his Maisters belly," he is 
introduced to passes backwards, accompanied by riversas at the head of his 
assailant on the delivery of a stoccata. 

The foils used by our great grandsires were certainly a severe enough 
sort of implement, eliciting vague ideas of pokers and crowbars, but then the 
art they praftised was of a most systematic and elegant charafter ; any man 
who hit his adversary anywhere but on his fencing jacket committed an ad 
of clumsiness not to be tolerated too often. But what the process of teaching 
and being taught the cut and thrust fencing of the sixteenth century must 
have cost in bruises and disfiguration is a difficult thing to realize. Although 
the word *' foil" is used constantly by authors of that period, there are no 
reasons to believe that they were anything less severe than blunt or rebated 
swords. In a system, however, which consisted of deliberate thrusts at the 
face and belly at very close quarters, and of cuts not only from the wrist 
but from the forearm, the pradice in the school was probably of a very 
conventional type. 

In an encounter with sharps, the wounds on both sides were numerous. 

Measure and time are of course of great importance in Vincentio's eyes, 
but, notwithstanding his sententious disquisition on the subjeA, his good 
scholar seems to remain somewhat sceptical on the score of " theory." 

" Luke. — What, I pray you, cannot everyone of himself without teaching, 
give a mandritta ? " — and thereupon the patient master explains at length what 
ought, even in our days, to be explained to our young officers when they are 
put through the course of rhythmical flourishes with round sticks called sword 
exercise, ** that everye man hath not the skill to strike and make it cutte " 
without exposing himself, or falling forward if the cut be avoided. 

Notwithstanding his numerous dissertations on the cuts, mandritti, riversi, 
stramazoni, and caricadi, which he only taught apparently to meet the natural 
love of Englishmen for that mode of fight, it is plain that Saviolo believes 
implicitly in the " point " as meeting all the requirements of personal combat. 

" I would not advise any friend of mine, if he were to fighte for his credite 
and life, to strike neither riversi, nor mandrittaes, because he puts himselfe in 
danger of his life : for to use the poynt is much more redye and spends not 
the like time." 


Like all the masters of his day, especially in Spain, and singularly at 
variance with our modern simplified notions, he strongly urges his pupils 
never to advance in a straight line on their adversary. " I saie that in my 
judgment it is not goode to use the right line : whereas in removing" — pass- 
ing — " in circular wise you are more safe from your enemy and you have his 
weapon at commandment." 

The master of fence, especially one of renown, was by common consent, 
and so to speak ex officio, arbiter on matters of punAilio, honour, and deport- 
ment, and looked upon as a kind of master of the ceremonies in all difficulties 
arising therefrom. Indeed, the bulk of most Italian and Spanish treatises on 
the art seems to be devoted to the exposition of the art of quarrelling in a 
gentlemanly manner, quite as much as to the means of utilizing the " honour- 
able weapon " to the greatest advantage. 

Accordingly Saviolo, in his position of fashionable master, never loses an 
opportunity of delivering himself of wise precepts, although he reserves his 
full consideration on nice points of honour for his " second booke," in which 
they are all methodically discussed. 

After recommending his pupil never to fight without good cause, but if 
he meet any man sword in hand, to do his best " lest he should be hurt out 
of his good nature," he goes on to consider general principles, and proceeds 
at first to explain the use of the left hand, 

" Luke : But, I praye you, is it not better to breake with the sworde 
than with the hand ? For, me thinketh, it should be dangerous for hurting 
the hand." 

Vincent io. " I will tell you, this weapon must be used with a glove, 
but if a man should be without a glove, it were better to hazard a little hurt 
of the hand thereby to become maister of his enemie's sworde," 

Considering the weight and length of the swords still worn at that time, 
there can be no doubt that very little parrying could be done with the sword 
itself, except by a countering hit, with anything like safety and rapidity, and 
therefore the left hand necessarily came into aftion in order to limit the 
motion of the sword hand to that of attack. 

As Vincentio does not begin by defining the various thrusts and cuts 
that he proposes to teach his scholar, before giving a few specimens of bouts 
with the rapier alone, and with rapier and dagger, a classification of cuts and 
thrusts as they were taught by the Italian masters will not be out of place.^ 

Of thrusts there were three kinds. The first two were classified accord- 
ing to the point of arrival on the adversary's body : the imbroccata reached 
him over his sword, hand, or dagger, travelling rather in a downward direc- 
tion, and was delivered evidently with the knuckles up, except in the case of 

* Most Italian fencing terms of that period are to be found in Florio's " First Fruit." 


a " volte/' * It evidently corresponded pretty closely with our thrust in 
" prime" or "high tierce." 

The stoccata reached the enemy under the sword, hand, or dagger, and 
might be delivered with the hand in pronation or any other position. 

The third kind of thrust was delivered from the left side, and called 
" punta riversa," and might be direded to any part, high or low. 

This classification, which seems somewhat specious now, was pradical 
considering that the rapier, being generally used for offence only, was not 
necessarily kept in front of the body, and consequently most hits were delivered 
from a somewhat wide guard on the right. Hence a thrust from the left side 
(after passing to the right of the adversary, for instance) was looked upon as 
belonging to a distinft category. 

It was called " riversa " from its analogy with the rinversa, as opposed 
to mandritta. 

Saviolo classifies cuts after the manner of Marozzo.* 

The passata was the chief means of closing the measure, as well as 
escaping a hit in a way which allowed of a counter attack at the same time. 

Passes were made to the right or left with the right foot followed rapidly 
by the left ; also to the front, provided the opponent's blade had been beaten 
aside with the left hand or dagger. To the rear, for the purpose of getting 
out of measure, or countering with an " imbroccata," a low thrust or a cut 
at the knee. 

The incartata corresponded praftically to the ** volte " as praAised till the 
end of the last century. The half incartata in a like manner to " demi-volte." 

" Vincent. As soon as your rapier is drawne, put yourselfe presentlye 
on guard,seeking the advantage,and goenot leaping, but while you change fix)m 
one ward to another, be sure to be out of distance, by retiring a little, because 
if your enemy is skilfull, he may offend you in the same instant. And note 
this well also, that to seke to offend, being out of measure, and not in due 
time, is very dangerous. Wherefore, as I tolde you before, having put yourselfe 
on guard, and charging your adversarie, take heed how you go about, and that 
your right foot be formost, stealing the advantage little by little, carrying your 
left legge behinde, with your poynte within the poynte of your enemies sworde ; 
and so, finding the advantage in time and measure, make a stoccata to the bellye 
or face of your adversarye, &c." And now concerning **time." ** When 
your enemie will charge in advancing the foote, and when he ofFereth a direft 
stoccata, then is the time.' 

*' But if he will make a * punta riversa' within measure, passe forward 
with your lefte foote and turne your poynte withall, and that is the time. 

1 " Incartata.'' « See page 36. 

3 Saviolo gives no definition of "time" in the abstra6l, but explains the notion by 
means of praflical examples. 


" If he put an imbroccata into you, answer him with a stoccata in the 
face, turning a little your bodye toward the right side accompanyed with 
your poynte. 

" If he strike a thruste at your legge, carry the same a little circular wise 
and thrust a stoccata to his face, and that is your right time. 

" And if he offer you a stramazone to the head, you must beare it with 
your swoorde, passing forward with your lefte legge, and turning wel your 
hand that your poynte may go in, in manner of an * imbroccata/ " 

It is somewhat remarkable that Saviolo so rarely should speak of thrusts 
in the breast, but rather in the belly or face. By the belly is meant all the 
part of the body below the ribs. The explanation is probably that in such 
a place a much slighter punfture would sufHce to cause a serious wound. 
The same would apply to the face, not only on account of its unprotected 
state, but also of the distressing aftion of blood in the eyes and mouth. 

The rest of the first part of the *' Pradlise " treating of the sword alone, 
is occupied by direAions concerning passing and retiring, time and measure, 
and beating with the left hand, upon typical attacks. 

On rare occasions, especially on the adversary's passes to the right, Saviolo 
admits of a " beat" with the sword, followed by a stoccata under the arm. 

Changing the rapier from the right to the left hand was, it seems, 
regularly taught and praftised with success. 

The rapier alone (spada sola) was looked upon in the best fencing 
schools as the foundation of the science of arms, but as the intervention of 
the left hand was absolutely necessary for the complete aAion, at once offen- 
sive and defensive, rapier and dagger always went together. 

Twenty years before Saviolo wrote his treatise, a small hand buckler or 
target was the usual complement of the sword in the costume of a gentleman 
walking abroad,^ but when the foyning play came in fashion, it was discarded 
in favour of the dagger, which was at once more elegant and better fitted to 
ward off a thrust to either side, and cover the enemy's blade. 

The second part of the first book " entreats" of the more pradical 
sword and dagger play. 

" I will now shewe you how to put yourselfe en garde with your Rapier 
and Dagger, for if I desire to make a good scholler, I would myself put 
his Rapier in one hand and his Dagger in the other, and so place his 
body in the same sorte, that I have before spoken of in the single Rapier, 
setting his right foote formost with the pointe of his Rapier drawne in short, 
and the Dagger helde out at length, bending a little his right knee, with the 
heele of his right foote diredlye against the midst of the lefte, causing him 
to go round toward the lefte side of his adversarye in a good measure, that 

1 Sec Fig. 8. 


he may take his advantage ; and then I would thrust a stoccata to his bellye 
beneath his Dagger, removing my right foote a little towards his lefte side. 

" Luke. And what must the schoUer do the whilst ? 

" Vincentio. The schoUer must breake it downward with the pointe of his 
Dagger toward his lefte side, and then put a stoccata to my bellye beneath 
my Dagger, in which time I, breaking it with the pointe of my Dagger, goe 
a little aside toward his lefte hand and make an imbroccata above his Dagger ; 
and the schoUer shall breake the imbroccata with his Dagger upward, parting 
circularely with his right foote toward my lefte side, and so thrust unto mee 
an imbroccata above my Dagger, in which time, with the pointe of my Dagger, 
I will beate it outward toward my lefte side and answere him with a 
stoccata in the bellye under his Dagger, parting circularely with my right 
foote toward his lefte side, stepping toward my lefte side with his right foote ; 
at which time I must moove with my bodye to save my face, and breake his 
pointe toward my right side, answering him with a rivcrsa to the head, and 
so retire with my right foote. At this time he must go forward with his 
lefte foote in the place of my right, and his Dagger high and straite, turning 
his swoorde hand so that his pointe may go direftlye to my bellye, and he 
must take the riversa on his swoorde and Dagger." 

Stoccatas and imbroccatas were generally beaten ** outwards " with the 
dagger, that is, the left side. 

Imbroccatas riversas were beaten " inwards," to the right. 

The dagger was often used to beat the adversary's point aside, prelimi- 
nary to making a thrust at the face. 

" Vincent. Either of you being within distance observing time, the 
first offerer is in danger to be slain or wounded in the counter time especially 
if he thrust resolutelye ; but if you be skilfuU, and not the other, then you 
may gain time and measure and so hit him saving yourselfe 

" Some are of opinion that they can hit him that shall hit them first, but 
such have never fought : or if by chance in one fight they have been so 
fortunate, let them not think that summer is come because one swallow is 
seeae! .... 

'* If your enemie carry his swoorde short in an open ward, you maie come 
straight on him and give him a punta riversa, either in the bellye or face, 
with such readiness that your swoorde be halfe within his Dagger before hee 
can breake it, turning nimblye your hand toward your lefte side, so that in 
oflFering to breake it, he shall make himselfe be hit either in the face, or in the 
bellye : and forget not to retire an halfe pace with the right foote accompanied 
with the lefte. 

" If the adversary assume a high guard, you may feint a stoccata to his 
bellye, so causing him to answere you, then pass your bodye to his lefte side ; 
then, on his thrust, bear it to the right, passing your right foote at the 


same moment to your lefte, at the same time making a riversa above his 
swoorde." .... 

Against a low guard — 

"You may charge him on the right side, bending you bodye to the lefte, 
and then, having gotten the advantage, you must suddenly pass with your 
lefte foote, turning withall your pointe under his swoorde, that it ascend to 
his bellye, and clap your Dagger as neere as you can to the hikes of his 
swoorde : all which, together with the motion of the bodye, must be done at 
one instant," 

Another guard with rapier and dagger was thus : — Right foot foremost, 
sword hand near the right thigh, point as 
high as the mouth, dagger hand about the 
height of left breast, point pointing to ad- 
versary's shoulder. In this guard the 
master will — 

" Give a stoccata in the middle of the 
Rapier, in punta riversa to his scholler, or 
else betweene the Arme and the Rapier, 
escaping a little backward with his right 
foote, accompanied somewhat with his 
lefte, towards his lefte side. 

" iL«*ff.— \Vhat shall the scholler do pig. ss—Saviolo's Second Guard with 
in the meane while ? Rapier and Dagger. 

" Fincentio. — While your maister 
giveth you the thrust you shall not strike it by with your Dagger, but onlie 
turning your Rapier hand, passe with your lefte foote towards his right side, 
the pointe of your Rapier, being placed above his and thruste forward, shall 
enter right into his bellye. 

" Luke. — And what shall the maister do to save himselfe ? 

" Fincen/io.— When hee giveth the thruste and you passe towards his 
right side, hee shall with great nimbieness recoyle a little backward with his 
right foote, bearing his bodye backward and searching your Rapier with his 
Dagger give you a mandritta at the head. 

'* Luke. — Then what remains for me to do ? 

" Fincentio, — You shall come with your right foote to the place where 
your Maisters right foote was, and shall give tum a thruste in the bellye 
or in the face, receiving the mandritta upon your Rapier and Dagger," 
&c. &c. 

Saviolo attaches great importance to the position of the dagger hand, 
which he considered should be very steady, and to that of the point, which 
was to be kept down or up, according as the adversary's attack was delivered 
upwards or downwards. 


Saviolo advocates also a third guard with sword and dagger, which is as 
follows : — Left foot forward, dagger hand well out in front in line with 
shoulder, knuckles outwards, sword hand close to right hip, point on a level 
with that of dagger. 

These few extracSte will suffice to show, although in no way original, 
Saviolo so understood his art as to justify his great reputation. Rapier-play, 
coarse as it may seem to modern fencers, was such an improvement on the 
older-fashioned sword and buckler fighting, and so much better suited to the 
requirements of a gentleman, that the first successful teachers of the foreign 
art were bound to be looked upon with immense favour by the society which 
flourished under Elizabeth ; the quaintness of the foreign terms they used, and 
the philosophical digressions on what had hitherto been considered as a 
most matter-of-faA subjeft, that of hard knocks, were then thought especially 

There was something wonderfidly novel to sturdy Englishmen in 
such a description of a pugnacious gallant as the following : *^ O he's a 
courageous captain of complements : he fights as you sing prick song, keeps 
time, distance, and proportion ; rests me his minim rest ; one, two, and the 
third in your bosom : the very butcher of a silk button ; a gentleman of the 
very first house, of the first and second cause : ah ! the immortal passado ! 
the punto riverso, the hay ! " * 

The ** captain of complements,*' the *' first and second cause," and 
" fencing by the book of arithmetic," * were notions evidently gathered in the 
school of some pupil of Carranza, but the ** butcher of a silk button '* could 
only refer to the well-known anecdote which has been given in the ** Notice 
of three Italian masters of fence." ' 

Many references to Vincentio as a fashionable teacher are to be found 
in authors of that period ; his name was as familiar then, as was that of 
Angelo some sixty years ago. The following is rather quaint : — 

Oh ! come not within distance Martius speaks 

Who ne'er discourseth but of fencing feats. 

Of counter time, findure, sly passataes, 

Stramazzone, resolute stoccataes; 

Of the quick change with the wiping mandritta. 

The caricado with th' imbroccata. 

The honourable fencing mystery 

Who does not honour ? Then falls he in again 

Jading our ears ; and somewhat must be sain 

Of blades, and Rapier hilts, and surest guard, 

Of Vincentio and the Burgonian*s ward/ 

' " Romeo and Juliet." ' " Romeo and Juliet," ad iii. sc. i. 

* See page 23. * Marston's " Scourge of Villany," Sat. xi. Book 3. 


There was then a perfeft infatuation for the rapier, the scientific play of 
which naturally delighted the more refined and educated classes. But the 
foreign fashion always met with much opposition among the bulk of English- 
men, old-fashioned, untravelled, and matter-of-faft. 

** Tut, sir," says Shallow, on hearing of the Frenchman's skill in rapier 
fight, " I could have told you more. In these times you stand on distance, 
your passes, stoccadoes and I know not what : 'tis the heart, Master Page : 
'tis the heart : 'tis here : 'tis here. I have seen the time, with my long sword 
I would have made you four tall fellows skip like rats." ^ 

But it was especially among the old-established masters of fence that the 
resentment against the influence of foreign teachers ran highest, as was 
shown in George Silver's malicious biographical sketch of Rocco, Saviolo, 
and Geronimo. 

Not having succeeded in disposing of Saviolo sword in hand, Silver 
undertook to combat him with the pen, by attacking all the points of Italian 
fencing in his "Paradoxe of Defence," which, in order to be even with Saviolo, 
he dedicated : — 

" To the Right honorable, my singular good Lord, Robert Earle of 
Essex and Ewe, &c. &c. &c. 

" Fencing (Right honourable) in this new fangled age is like our 
fashions, resembling the Camelion who altereth himselfe into all colours save 
white: so fencing changeth into all wards save the right .... To seek for 
a true defence in an untrue weapon is to angle on the earth for fish, and to 
hunt on the sea for hares. . . . And (Right honourable) if we will have 
true defence we must seeke it where it is, in short swords, short staves, the 
half pike. Partisans, Gleves, or such like weapons of perfeft length, not 
in long swords, long rapiers, nor frog pricking poniards. . . . English 
maisters of defence are profitable members in the commonwealth, if they 
teach, with ancient English weapons of true defence weight and convenient 
lengths, within the compasse of the statures and strength of men. 

" But the rapier in reason ought not to be, nor suffered to be taught, 
because it maketh men fearfuU and unsafe in single combats and weak and 
unserviceable in the warres. . . . 

" To prove this I have set forth these my paradoxes, different I must 
confesse from the maine current of our outlandish teachers. . . . 

*^ We, like degenerate sonnes, have forsaken our forefathers vertues 
with their weapons, and have lusted like men sicke of a strange ague after 
the strange vices of Italian, French and Spanish fencers, little remembering 
that their apish toyes could not free Rome from Brennus' sack, nor France 
from Henrie the fifth his conquest. 

* ** Merry Wives," aft i. sc. i. 



** These Italian fencers teach us offence not defence.^ 

^* They teach men to butcher one another at home in peace, wherewith 
they cannot hurt their enemies abrode in warre. For your honour well 
knows that when the battels are joined, and come to the charges, there is no 
roome for them to drawe their bird spits. And when they have them, what 
can they do with them ? can they peerce his corslet with the point, can they 
unlace his helmet, hew under their pikes with a stocata, a riversa, a dritta, 
a stramason or other such like tempestuous terms ? 

" No, the toyes are fit for children not for men, for straggling boyes of 
the campe to murder poultrie, not for men of honour to try battel! with 
their foes .... they kill our friends in peace but cannot hurt our foes in 

Claiming to have most perfcft experience of all manners of weapons, 
George Silver advises his countrymen " to beware how they submit them- 
selves into the hands of Italian teachers, but hold to the good ancient 
weapons. Our ploughmen have mightily prevailed against them, as also 
against maisters of defence both in schooles and countries that have taken 
upon them to stand upon schoole trickes and jugling gambalds : whereby 
it grew a common speech among the countriemen, bring me to a fencer and 
I will bring him out of his fence trickes with good downright blows, I will 
make him forget his fence trickes. I speake not against masters of defence, 
— they are to be honoured, — nor against the science — it is noble and in mine 
opinion to be preferred next to Divinitie. — ^And moreover the exercising of 
weapons putteth away aches, griefes and diseases, it increaseth strength and 
sharpeneth the wits, it giveth a perfeft judgment, it compelleth melancholy 
choleric and evil conceits, it keepeth a man in breath, perfeft health and 
long life. It is unto him that hath the perfeftion thereof a most friendly 
and comfortable companion when he is alone, having but only his weapon 
about him, it putteth him out of all feare. 

" And for as much as this noble and most mightie nation of English- 
men, of their good nature are always most loving, very credulous and readie 
to cherish and protcdl strangers, yet that through their good nature they 
never more by strangers or false teachers may be deceived once againe, 
I am most humbly to admonish them that from henceforth, first before they 
learne of them they cause a sufficient triall of them to be made, whether the 
excellencie of their skill be such as they professe or no : the trial to be very 
requisite and reasonable, even such as I myself would be contented withall, 
if I could take upon me to go into their countrie to teach their nation to 
fight. And this is the trial : they shall play with such weapons as they 
profess to teach withall, three bouts apeece with three of the best maisters of 
defence, and three bouts apeece with three unskilful valient men, and three 

' There was some truth in this statement. 


bouts apeece with three resolute men halfe drunke. Then if they can defend 
themselves against these maisters of defence, and hurt and go free from the 
rest, they are to be honored, cherished, and allowed for perfeft good teachers, 
what coun trey men soever they be ; but if of anie of these they take faile ; 
then are they imperfeft in their profession, their fight is false and they are 
false teachers, deceivers and murtherers and to be punished accordingly, yet 
no worse punishment unto them I wish than such as in their triall they 
shall find. 

^^ There are foure especiall markes to know the Italian fight is imperfed 
and that the Italian teachers and setters of books of Defence never had the 
perfeftion of the true fight. 

** The first marke is, they seldome fight in their owne countrie unarmed, 
commonly in this sort : a paire of gauntlets upon their hands and a good 
shirt of maile upon their bodyes. The second marke is that, neither the 
Italians nor any of their best scholers do never fight but they are commonly 
sore hurt, or one or both of them slaine. The third marke is, they never 
teach their schoUers, nor sett downe in their bookes of defence anie perfeA 
lengthes of their weapons, without the which no man can by nature or art 
fight safe against the perfeft length. For, being too short, their times are 
too long and spaces too wide for their defence, and being too long, they will 
be, upon everie crosse ^ that shall happen to be made, whether it be done by 
skil or chance, in great danger of death because, the Rapier being too long, 
the crosse cannot be undone in due time, but may be done by going backe 
with the feete : but that time is always too long to answere the time of the 
hand, therefore every man ought to have a weapon according to his own 
stature. . . . 

** The fourth marke is, the crosses of their Rapiers for the true defence 
of their hands are imperfeA for the true cariage of the guardant fight with- 
out the which all fights are imperfeft.*' 

In many respefts Silver was greatly in advance of his age with regard 
to true principles of the art of fighting. He seems to have been the first 
who clearly explained the necessity of proportioning the length of the weapon 
to that of the arm, and pointed out that the weight of the sword then in 
fashion was such as altogether to prevent fencers '^ to ofifend and defend in 
due time, and by these two last causes many valiant men have lost their 

" Of the false resolutions and vaine opinions of Rapier men, and 

of the danger of death thereby ensuing. 

'* It is a great question and especially among the Rapier-men who hath 
the vantage, of the thruster or the warder. 

^ Crosses s parries, U, by crossing or counteung. 


" Now when two happen to fight being both of one mind that the 
thruster hath the vantage, they make all shift they can who shall give the 
first thrust : as for example two Captaincs at Southampton even as they 
were going to take shipping upon the key, fel at strife, drew their Rapiers 
and presentlye, being desperate, hardie and resolute as they call it, with all 
force and over great speed, ran with their Rapiers one at the other and both 
were slaine. 

" Now when two of the contrarie opinion shall meet and fight, you shall 
see very peaceable warres betweene them, for they verilye think that he that 
first thrusteth is in great danger of his life, therefore with all speede do put 
themselves in ward, or stocata, the surest guard of all others as Vincentio 
sayth, and thereupon they stand sure saying the one to the other; thrust 
and then dare ; strike or thrust and then dare for thy life sayth the other. 
These two cunning gentlemen standing long together upon this worthie ward, 
they both depart in peace, according to the old proverb : it is good sleeping 
in a whole skin ! . . . 

" Then thus I conclude, that the truth may appeare for the satisfaftion 
of all men, that there is no advantage absolutely nor disadvantage either in 
the striker, thruster or warder, but whosoever gaineth the place in true pace, 
space and time hath the advantage, and this is my resolution/' 

In Master Silver's opinion, ^' the cause that so manie are slaine and 
many sore hurt in fight with long rapiers is not by reason of their dangerous 
thrustes, nor cunningness of that Italianated fight, but in the length and 
unwieldiness thereof." Also, that if we consider the two different methods of 
'^ running and standing in Rapier fights, the runner hath the advantage." 

"Of Spanish fight with the Rapier. 

" The Spaniard is now thought to be a better man with his rapier than 
is the Italian, Frenchman, high Almaine, or any other country man whatso- 
ever, because they in their rapier-fight stand upon so many intricate trickes, 
that in all the course of a man's life it shall be harde to learne them, and if 
they misse doing the least of them in their fight, they are in danger of death. 
But the Spaniard in his fight, both safely to defend himselfe and to endanger 
his enemie, hath but one lying and two wardes to learne, wherein a man with 
small praAise in a verie short time may become perfeA. 

" This is the manner of Spanish fight : they stand as brave as they can 
with their bodies straight upright, narrow spaced, with their feet continually 
moving, as if they were in a dance, holding forth their arms and rapiers 
verie straight against the face or bodies of their enemies : and this is the only 
way to accomplish that kind of fight. And this note that as long as any 


man shall lie in that manner with his arme and point of his rapier straight it 
shall be impossible for his adversary to hurt him, because whichsoever way 
the blow shall be made against him, by reason that his Rapier hilt iyeth so 
farre before him, he hath but verie little way to move to make his ward 
perfeA. In this manner : if a blow be made at the right side of the head, a 
verie little moving of the hand with the knuckles upward defendeth that side 
of the head and bodie, and the point being still greatly endangers the striker; 
so likewise if a blow be made at the left side of the head, a verie small turn- 
ing of the wrist, with the knuckles downward, defendeth that side of the head 
and body. And if a thrust be made on them, the wards, by reason of the 
indireftions in moving the feet in manner of dancing as aforesaid, maketh a 
perfeft ward and still withall the point greatly endangereth the other ; and 
thus is the Spanish fight perfeft." 

However, Silver has enough sense to see that the chief difficulty is to 
keep that point straight in the adversary's eyes, by dexterously defeating any 
attempt to beat it aside. 

"Illusions for the maintenance of imperfect weapons, and 
false fights to feare or discourage the unskilful of their 
weapons, from taking a true course or use, for attaining 
the perfect knowledge of true fight. • 

" First, for the Rapier (saith the Italian or false teacher) I hold it to be 
a perfed: good weapon, because the crosse hindreth not to hold the handle, to 
thrust both far and straight and to use all manner of advantages in the wards, 
or sodainly to cast the same at the adversarie, but with the Sword you are 
driven with all the strength of the hand to hold fast the handle. And in the 
warres I would wish no friend of mine to weare swords with hilts, because 
when they are sodainly set upon for haste they set their hands upon their 
hilts insteed of their handles : in which time it hapneth many a time before 
they can draw their sword they are slaine by their enemies. And for Sword and 
Buckler fight it is imperfeA because the buckler blindeth the sight, neither would 
I have anie man lie aloft with his hand above his head to strike strong blowes. 
Strong blowes are naught, especially being set above the head, because therein 
all the bodie and face is discovered. Yet I confess, in old time, when blowes 
were only used with short swords and bucklers, and back sword these kinds 
of fight were good and most manly, but now in these daies fight is altered. 
Rapiers are longer for advantage than swords were wont to be when blowes 
were used ; men were so simple in their fight, that they thought him a coward 
that wold made a thrust, or strike a blow beneath the girdle. Againe if their 
weapons were short, as in times past they were, yet fight is better looked into 


in these days than then it was. Who is it in these dayes seeth not that the 
blow compasseth round like a wheele whereby it hath a longer way to go^ 
but the thrust passeth in a straight line and therefore cometh a nearer way 
and is done in a shorter time than is the blow ? Therefore there is no wise 
man that will strike, unlesse he be wearie of his life. It is certaine that the 
point for advantage everie way in fight is to be used^ the blow is utterly 
naught, and not to be used. He that fighteth upon the blow, especially with 
a short sword, will be sore hurt or slaine. The Devill can say no more for 
the maintenance of errors." 

The following are a few of the arguments advanced by Silver on behalf 
of the English masters of fence. Comment as to the fallacy of some of 
them, and on the apparently wilful misconception of the Italian system^ is 
useless : — 

'^ That a blow cometh continually as neare a way as a thrust, and most 
commonly nearer, stronger, more swifter, and is sooner done. 

^' Perfeft fight standeth upon both blow and thrust, therefore the thrust 
is not onely to be vsed. 

^ That the blow is more dangerous and deadly in fight, then a thrust, for 
proofe thereof to b^ made according with Art, an Englishman holdeth argu- 
ment against an Italian. 

" Italian. — Which is more dangerous or deadly in fight of a blow or a 
thrust ? 

*' Englishman. — This question is not propounded according to art, be- 
cause there is no fight perfeA without both blow and thrust. 

'^ Dalian. — Let it be so, yet opinions are other wise holden, that the 
thrust is onely to be vsed, because it commeth a nearer way, and is more dan- 
gerous and deadly, for these reasons : first the blow compasseth round like a 
wheele, but the thrust passeth in a straight line, therfore the blow by 
reason of the compasse, hath a longer way to go than the thrust, and is there- 
fore longer in doing, but the thrust passeth in a straight line, therfore hath 
shorter way to so then hath the blow, and is therfore done in a shorter 
time, and is therfore much better than the blow, and more dangerous and 
deadly, because if a thrust do hit the face or bodie, it indangereth life, 
and most commonly death ensueth : but if the blow hit the bodie, it is not so 

^' Englishman. — Let your opinions be what they wil, but that the thrust 
commeth a nearer way, and is sooner done than the blow, is not true : and for 
proofe thereof reade the twelfth paradox. And now will I set downe probable 
reasons, that the blow is better than the thrust, and more dangerous and 
deadly. First, the blow commeth as neare a way, and most commonly nearer 
than doth the thrust, and is therefore done in a shorter time than is the 
thrust : therfore in respedkof time, wherupon standeth the perfeAion of fight. 


the blow is much better than the thrust Againe, the force of the thrust 
passeth straight, therefore any crosse being indireftly made^ the force of 
a child may put it by : but the force of a blow passeth direftly, therefore 
must be direftly warded in the counter-checke of his force : which cannot be 
done but by the conuenient strength of a man, and with true crosse in true 
time, or else will not safely defend him : and is therefore much better, 
and more dangerous than the thrust, and againe, the thrust being made 
through the hand, arme, or leg, or in many places of the body and face, are 
not deadly, neither are they maimes, or losse of limmes or life, neither is he 
much hindred for the time in his fight, as long as the blood is hot : for example. 

'^ I haue knowne a gentleman hurt in Rapier fight, in nine or ten places 
through the bodie, armes and legges, and yet hath continued in his fight, and 
afterwards hath slaine the other, and come home and hath bene cured of all 
his wounds without maime, and is yet living. But the blow being strongly 
made, taketh somtimes cleane away the hand from the arme, hath manie 
times bene scene. Againe vpon the head or face with a short sharpe sword, 
is most commonly death. A full blow vpon the necke, shoulder, arme or 
legge, indangereth life, cutteth off the veines, muscles, andsinewes, perisheth 
the bones : these wounds made by the blow, in rcsped of perfeft healing, are 
the losse of limmes, or maimes incurable for euer. 

** And yet more for the blow : a ful blow vpon the head, face, arme, 
leg or legs, is death, or the partie so wounded in the mercie of him that shall 
so wound him. For what man shall be able long in fight to stand vp, either 
to reuenge, or defend himselfe, hauing the veines, muscles, and sinewes of his 
hand, arme, or leg cleane cut asunder ? or being dismembred by such wound 
vpon the face or head, but shall be enforced therby, and through the losse of 
bloud, the other a little dallying with him, to yeeld himself, or leaue his life 
in his mercie ? 

" And for plainer deciding this controuersie betweene the blow and the 
thrust, consider this short note. The blow commeth manie wayes, the thrust 
doth not so. The blow commeth a nearer way than a thrust most commonly, 
and is therefore sooner done. The blow requircth the strength of a man to 
be warded ; but the thrust may be put by, by the force of a child. A blow 
vpon the hand, arme, or legge is a maime incurable, but a thrust in the hand, 
arme, or legge is to be recouered. The blow hath manie parts to wound, and 
in euerie of them commandeth the life ; but the thrust hath but a few, as the 
bodie or face, and not in euerie part of them neither." 


E might pass over Marco Docciolini, who certunty introduced no 
improvement into the at% but for one passage which illustrates 
clearly how general was the method of looking on time thrusts as 
the most perfeft attacks^ and on " crossing " — what the French 
call " barrer " — as the best parries, both attacks and parries being 
performed on a pass sideways. 

In a paragraph treating of '* tempo, contro tempo," and *' mezzo tempo," 
"It is necessary," say Docciolini, "that in taking a 'time' thou shouldst 
remove thy body from ' the line ; ' and that thou shouldst seize thy ' time ' 
whenever thy adversary displaces his point from the line of thy body. So 
much for ' tempo contra tempo ; ' ' mezzo tempo ' is this : when thine enen^ 
thrusts at tbee, break thou his thrust, striking him at the same time'' 

After wading through the meandering discourse of so many philo- 
sophical swordsmen, it is refreshing to turn over the leaves of Fabris* 
" Schermo," and find at last a clear, methodical exposition of the science of 

Fabris, if not a great innovator, was at least a man who knew all that was 
to be known on swocusmanship in his day, and who made a system out of the 
best methods he could find. The extraordinary work which he published 
towards the end of a life devoted to his profession, embodies pra^ically the 
whole of the science of fence as it was understood in the latter part of the 
sixteenth century. 

Fabris was bom in Bologna in 1544, and b^an the profession of arms 
when Marozzo was still teaching in his old age, when Agrippa yet lived, 
and when Agocchie and Viggiani, his own fellow-townsmen, taught in Venice, 
as also did Grassi. Later on he travelled through Spun, France, and Germany. 
From Saimft Didier and Meyer he probably had nothing to learn, but one 
may feel sure that in Spain he found means of meeting the great Carranza and 
studying his method. 

Towards 1590 he was attraAed to the Danish Court by Christian IV., a 


great devotee of the science of arms, under whose patronage he published his 

Fabris considered that nothing on earth was so great and good as fencing, 
and consequently devoted all his time to it ; there is not a word in his 250 
folio pages, nor one of his 190 plates, which does not refer to *'praftical" 
fencing. It is easy to trace in his exposition of the subjedl some portion of 
the methods of most of his predecessors, although he dismisses the treatment 
of all that refers to the cut — " tagli " — in very few words. Indeed, towards 
the end of the sixteenth century, the tendency of masters was decidedly to 
discard cutting almost altogether. 

As Fabris' system contains all the principles that had been found most 
praftical in his time, and foreshadows all the refinements and the simpli6ca- 
tions that were to take place during the seventeenth century, — moreover, as he 
is the first author who followed throughout the rational system of defining 
before applying, and of proceeding fi-om the general to the special, — an analysis 
of his work will be a fitting conclusion to this sketch of the first epoch in the 
history of fencing. 

Fabris divides his work into two books and six parts. The first 
book treats thoroughly the question of broad principles and of the more 
" academic " adlions with the rapier, alone or accompanied with dagger or 
cloak ; it discusses in a very exhaustive manner the relative value of the past 
and present methods. The second book is one " wherein is demonstrated 
certain rules with which it will be possible to strike the enemy from the 
moment the sword is drawn, without halting or waiting any time, principles 
which have never been treated by any master or writer." 

This second book is written on the same plan as, and is merely an elaborate 
amplification of, the first. It describes a more aftive way of fighting on the 
march, applicable to occasions when the conditions of the encounter are not 
settled beforehand, as they would be in a striAly ** single " combat or in the 
fencing room. 

When it is remembered that duels were at that epoch rarely fought 
without seconds, and that the code of honour never prevented a man who had 
despatched his adversary from rushing to the help of his friends, the reason 
is obvious why Fabris attaches such importance to his method of engaging 
with an opponent without halting in front of him. But as it contains no new 
principles, a sketch of the introduction to the first part will sufiice for the 
purpose of this book. 

The four principal guards of Fabris bear a great resemblance to those of 
his predecessors in Italy who believed in the superiority of the point — those 
of Agrippa, Grassi, and the " perfeft guards " of Viggiani. He preserves 
the old meaning of the word ** guardia," namely, that of an attitude favour- 
able to the delivery of a certain set of attacks. The notion of defence — 

Fig. 56. — Ferita di lecondi, contra una quaria, 
passata di pie ainistro. A thrust '* in leconda," by a 
pass, timed, on the •dverwry'i piu to the left, by 
diKngaging, from outside. — Fabrit. 


beyond that of being in a position to strike the adversary — was, of course, 
quite subordinate as long as the theory was held that to parry without 
attacking at the same time was a mistake. 

But in bis definition of the " contra postura " or " contra guardia " the 
beginning of the modem mean- 
ing of a guard is to be found. 

The four principal guards are 
thus formed : — 

*' The first is the position 
assumed when, the sword being 
just drawn out of the scabbard, 
Its point is turned towards the 
adversary, for we think it better 
that all guards should be formed 
in that manner ; the second is 
when the hand is slightly 
lowered; the thirds when it is 
held naturally without being 
turned, either to one side or 
to the other; x^c fourth, when 
it is turned towards the inside,"-:— the left side. 

" But be^des these four principal, there are three intermediate guards, 
suitable to special occasions." 

These definitions refer only 
to the position of the sword. 
Any one of them may be as- 
sumed with any given " pos- 
tura," or portion of the body. 
Against any posture assumed 
by the adversary Fabris con- 
siders it wise to oppose a simi- 
lar one as a "contra pos- 

As the author seems to have 
exercised his ingenuity in re- 
presenting all the possible 
postures that can be assumed 
by human bodies with any 
given guard, some of the plates do certainly represent the most preposterous 

The fencers are (Ureifted to fall on guard and assume such posture, with 
that guard, as best suits them. The guard is a position for attack for the 

Fig. 57. — Ferita di qutrta, contra una ti 
Time thrust uken on the adveriary's feint of di 
gageiDcnt. — Fib rii. 


hand ; the guard and posture combined determine the kind of thrust — the 
** botta " — that is to be delivered. It is therefore necessary for the defensive 
side to assume the *^ contra postura," with the same guard as his opponent. 

** Wishing/' says Fabris, " to form the * contra postura/ it is necessary so 
to place the body and the sword, that without touching the enemy's weapon 
one should be protefted in the straight line which comes from the adversary's 
point towards the body, and that one should be thus in safety without making 
any movement whatsoever. In short, that the enemy should not be able to 
strike the part menaced, but, on the contrary, be obliged — for the purpose of 
attacking — to carry his sword elsewhere. In so doing he must use more time 
and afford a better opportunity to the parry. ... 

'^ But in assuming that position it is also necessary so to hold the sword 
that it* can resist the pressure of the adversary's. This rule holds good 
against all his postures and changes of guard, whether he also use a poniard^ 
or any other defensive weapon, or only his sword. He who shall display 
most cleverness in thus maintaining himself in the proper ' contra guardia,' 
shall have great advantage over his enemy. ... 

** But it often occurs that while you form the * contra postura,' the 
adversary assumes another ^ postura,' and this often also out of measure, so 
that when you advance to strike him, he can at the same time that you move 
your foot assume the advantage over you by means of a new * contra postura.' 
It is therefore necessary to be rich in expedients." 

Fabris defines the two measures much more closely than any of his pre- 
decessors : " misura larga," wide measure, that in which it is possible to 
strike the enemy by advancing one step ; ^ misura stretta," close measure, 
that in which this can be done by merely extending the arm without moving 
the body. 

The adversaries assume their ** contra posture " out of measure, and, by 
advancing cautiously on each other, come within "misura larga." They 
take care never to close to " misura stretta " without either delivering a 
thrust, or making a feint in order to stay the inevitable time hit. " In all 
attacks," says Fabris, " be careful not to throw the thrust with too much 
violence and not to over-reach," — a precaution of even greater moment with the 
unwieldy rapier than with light modern swords. 

The question whether it was better to adopt the method of making two 
distinA motions in parrying and returning had been mooted and decided in 
the negative by nearly all the masters of the age. Fabris expresses himself 
even more decidedly in favour of the " stesso tempo," single time, against the 
" dui tempi," double time. 

** And now, to come to the subjeft of the ' dui tempi,' we have to say, 
that although this method may succeed well enough against certain men, 
nevertheless, it is impossible to consider it as good as that of parrying and 



Striking at the same time. For the corred and only secure way of fighting 
is to meet your adversary's body at the same time as it presses forward, other- 
wise it will immediately retire safe and sound. . . . Our experience has been 
that most of those who praftise the method of ' dui tempi ' are in the habit 
when they meet the adversary's blade, of beating it, so as to go in afterwards 
and strike. This method might succeed generally, but for the danger of 
being deceived." 

Fabris goes on to explain, in great detail, when it is proper to parry and 
when it is a mistake, and to demonstrate that no parry is good that does not 
strike the adversary at the same time. He maintains that a blow may always 
be warded by menacing the opponent, on his attack, by a movement which also 
covers the body ; in short, by assuming in time the necessary *' contra postura." 


Fig. 58. — Ferita di quarta contra una scconda. A counter by 
means of a ** volte " on the adversary's disengagement, avoiding the 
parry attempted by the left hand. — Fabris. 

This theory of the " stesso tempo " remained an article of faith among 
fencers as long as the length of the blade remained uncurtailed. It exists 
at the present day nearly unchanged in the few old Spanish fencing schools 
where the spada ^ is still taught, and is perceptible in a modified way in the 
modem Neapolitan play. It was only discarded by the French when, some 
eighty years later, they began to reduce the dimensions of their swords to 
such an extent that praftice blades were used even shorter than the modern 
French foil. 

The " contra postura *' was not complete, when within close measure, 
without the engagement of the adverse blade, the " trovare di spada." 

After the question of distance naturally comes that of time. 

" A * time ' is a movement that one of the fencers makes within distance 
. . . thus a time is an opportunity, either for striking or assuming an advan- 

* In contradistindlion to the florete. 


tage over your enemy. Indeed, that name of time was given to any move- 
ment which is made under arms, in order to express that during that time 
the enemy can do nothing else : and that is the moment to strike him." 

The obvious attack against a man well covered in his " contra postura,'* 
is the disengagement — the **cavatione " * of the sword. Again Fabris is the 
first master who absolutely defined the rules of engagement and disengage- 

** When the enemy tries to engage your sword, or to beat it aside : 
without letting him engage or beat it, you must make a cavatione di tempo " — 
i.e, time a disengagement. 

" A * contra cavatione ' * is that which can be done, during the time that 
the enemy disengages, by disengaging yourself, so that he shall find himself 
situated as before. . . . 

" A * ricavatione ' ' is what you may do after the first cavatione, and 
whilst your adversary makes a * contra cavatione ; * in other words, making a 
second disengagement so as to deceive his aftion. . . . 

" We call * meggia cavatione ' * one in which the sword does not com- 
plete its passage from one side to another, but remains under the opponent's 

This passage from a high line to a low one is still called ^^ mezza cava- 
zione " by the Italians. 

On the subjedl of feints, Fabris is very anxious to let his pupils beware 
of useless, and therefore dangerous ones. 

"Some, when making feints, move more with their feet than their 
swords, stamping as much as they can, trying to frighten the enemy and dis- 
turb him before striking him. This may sometimes be eflfedual, in the 
schools especially, where the floor being made of boards is consequently highly 
resonant, but out in the open, in the fields, where the ground is not sonorous, 
no such efFeft can be produced. . . . Moreover, should this be done within mea- 
sure, it is time lost. . . . 

" Others make feints of attacks with the body, but without much ex- 
tending the arm, hoping that the enemy may not meet the sword on his 
parry, and to strike him when his point is thus displaced by his futile attempt. 
But although this device may succeed with timid persons, it will be of little 
avail with one who understands the art, for he would certainly check it with a 
time thrust. ... 

" There are others again, who feign to carry their point forward, and 
when the adversary comes to parry, first draw in their sword and then hurl 
back the thrust. This is even a worse mistake than the others, for then 

* Literally, " drawing away." ' Counter disengagement — " centre." 

* Double disengagement — "double/* * Literally, half disengagement. 


the sword, which ought to go through one motion only, performs three 

Then the author proceeds to show that in order to succeed with a feint, 
it should be pushed sufficiently far to oblige the adversary to take notice of it, 
and should be direded against such parts only as are obviously uncovered, so 
as to be really threatening. He explains that the change from the false to 
the real attack should only take place when the adversary begins to parry the 
former; "remembering that there is always a danger of being stopped by a 
time thrust if the ' contra guardia ' is not correiftly kept " — in other words, if 
the attacking party uncovers himself during the feint. 

Had Fabris taught his pupils the lunge, even as it was praftised by his 
younger contemporaries Giganti and Capo Ferro, nothing would have been 
wanting in his method to make it as perfed a system of fence as could be 

Fig, 59- — Ferita di teconda contra una quarta. A thruat by 
diMngaging and pMsing, with an opposidon of the left hand, — 

devised for the rapier. But he does not appear to have appreciated the value 
of the innovation, for he speaks of the " ferire a piede fermo," ' merely as an 
expedient to be used on few occasions. This is how he defines the imperfed 
method of lunging that was becoming a feature in the science : — 

"By 'ferire a piede fermo' I mean a way of delivering a thrust by 
carrying the right foot forward and retiring immediately afterwards, or that 
of striking by merely moving the body, but without stirring the left foot. 
Passing, on the other hand, consists in carrying forward both feet alter- 

In both cases he recommends constant pradice in bending the body for- 
ward so as to increase the reach, and in recovering rapidly in order to avoid 
the counter. 

' " Tirer de pied ferme." 

Concerning the way of holding the Rapier. 

" Many are the ways of holding the sword, and keeping the arm. Some 
hold their swords at an angle, and their arm a little forward towards the knee.' 
Others draw their arm back, but have their sword so as to form nearly a 
straight line from the elbow to the point. Others, again, keep their arm and 
sword in astnugbt line from the shoulder."* 

Fabris gives the preference to the last two methods ; to the second be- 
cause he considers it convenient for parrying, and to the third because it 
keeps the adversary away and is convenient for time thrusts. 

After discussing the best attitudes, he explains, very plausibly, why a 
man should reduce his eiledive length by doubling himself up, and so obtain 

Fig. 60. — A counter, on the Bdveraarf's thrust in quarta, which n 
parried with the dagger. — Fabris. 

better cover behind his guard, as well as save time in the attack, " since," as 
he before demonstrated, '* an attack is much more efficacious when the body is 
well pressed forward." Moreover, as the great desideratum is a variety of 
postures with each guard, and a fertility of resources in passing from one to 
the other, it is better, in his opinion, to gymnasticize the J^y into as many 
attitudes as possible, so as to minimize the danger of time thrusts by the 
unforeseen nature of the attack. 

These are the broad principles which Fabris applies to his series of one 
hundred and ninety cases, illustrated by as many plates, ranging from the mere 
opposition of guards and contra postures, to the most comphcated bouts his 
long experience had acquainted him with. 

The science of arms owes to Fabris the elucidation of many hitherto 
half understood principles : a clear definition of the word "guard," under the 
name of " contra guardia ; " of opposition, which he calls " trovare di spada ; " 

• See Fig. 54.— Saviolo. ' See Fig. 43.— The Spanish Guard. 


of disengagement; circular parries and their deceptions, which he calls 
" contra cavatione " and " ricavatione " rcspeAively ; of the nature of feints ; 
of time, and of distance. He was the first who proved the incontestable 
superiority of a system of fencing in which rapidity of aftion in seizing the 
time is the main objed, over one which depends on elaborate preliminaries to 
the attack. 

He has been credited with the invention of the " volte," — ^ incartata," — 
but without foundation. Saviolo's works stand as one of the proofs that this 
was a recognized aftion in the fencing of his time. Among Fabris* favourite 
" botte " is found one which is still praftised in the Neapolitan school of our 
days under the name of** sbasso " and ** passata sotto," and which he called a 
" ferita di prima." * 

The last part of the book treats in a very concise manner of the praAical 
application of his principles to irregular fighting, such as dagger against 
sword, cloak against sword or dagger, or sword ag^nst pike or halbert, the 
use of the pummel in close aftion, various ways of disarming, &c. 

Fabris' work met with such success that no less than five editions, and 
as many translations or adaptations, appeared during the seventeenth century 
in Italy and Germany. Bologna, although the rtlother already of no few cele- 
brated masters of fence, eredted a monument to the memory of her valorous 
son. It has been considered better to analyze Fabris, in preference to his con- 
temporaries, Cavalcabo, Patenostrier, and Giganti, as being more complete 
than the two former, and more imbued with old theories than the latter, who 
may be taken as the first of an uninterrupted series of masters who worked 
up the science to its present state of perfection. 

* Sec Fig. 2. 


30 WARDS the very end of the sixteenth 
1 century, there were in Italy several 
I masters who taught the improved 
swordsmanship, and professed the prin- 
ciples so clearly expounded by Fabris 
— without, however, complicating their system by 
the analysis of all postures possible to the human 
body, — thus opening a fair way to the constant im- 
provement which kept pace with the simplilication 
of body movements. 

Hieronimo Cavalcabo of Bologna — probably a son 
of that Zacharia Cavalcabo who edited Viggiani's 
work— published, about the last years of the 
century, a treatise the original of which does not 
seem to be extant. But when its author was called 
to the French Court, the book was translated into 
French,' together with an equally undiscoverable 
opuscule of the great Patenostrier of Rome, 
touching the " sword alone." These masters, with 
Giganti, Capo Fcrro, and the great " Tappe de 
Milan," mentioned by Brant6me — who, however, 
does not seem to have written anything — main- 
Fig. 61.— Iwlian Rspier. taincd so highly the supremacy of Italian swords- 
From Lacombe") " Armes et manship, that the nobility of all countries — always 
Arraures." excepting Spain, who held to her worship of 

Carranza — found it absolutely necessary to cross 
the Alps to learn their P'"ecious secrets. Cavalcabo later on settled in France, 
and after him his descendants taught the art of fence in that country until 

' See Biblio., 1609. 


the beginning of Louis XIV.'s reign. The Germans likewise translated his 
work, as they did later on those of Fabris, Giganti, and Capo Ferro.* 

All these masters taught the same guards, four in number ; * Patenostrier 
urged the advisability of reducing their number to two (corresponding pretty 
closely to our " high tierce " and " low carte ") by taking the mean of the two 
high guards for the first, and that of the two low ones for the second. The 
chief feature of Cavalcabo's method is the systematic use of the " beat," — 
which in the French translation is called " battre de main," — to prepare the 
way for the *' cavazione " — ^the ** passer dessous " of Villamont. Cavalcabo still 
ascribes some special value to guards on the left side for defensive aftion, 
considering those on the right as more suitable to the attack, according to 
Viggiani's theory. It is, in faA, very probable that he was Viggiani's pupil.^ 

Patenostrier seems to have been the first to speak of the " filo " — the 
**coule d'epee" — a term which he applied to the aft ion of forcibly entering 
within the adversary's guard by judicious timing and opposition of fort to 
faible. The properties of the different parts of the blade were perfeftly 
understood in those days, and of even greater praftical interest with the 
" spada lunga " than they are now. 

In this new school the difference of the guard depends only on the position 
of the sword arm ; the " botta," however, is described not merely by reference 
to the attacking party's guard, but also and chiefly by reference to the part 
it is direfted against. Thus, we are beginning to hear of a " thrust inside the 
arm " as being in *' quarta ;" one " outside," or over the arm, as in " terza," 
in Patenostrier's system of two guards. This is indeed the commencement of 
rational fencing: the number of botte will increase, their definition and 
limitation will become more accurate, and, in presence of the multiplicity of 
attacks, proper parries will be devised. 

To Nicoletto Giganti belongs the honour of having first clearly explained 
the advantage of the *' lunge," and applied it to most attacks. It is true that 
Capo Ferro, who was contemporary with him, explained its mechanism still 
more carefully, but Giganti's work has certainly the priority of date. The 
first plate of his" Teatro " represents a man in the aft of " tirare una stoccata 
longha," and whose position does not differ very materially from a correft 
lunge in our days. 

Like Patenostrier, Giganti admits of several guards, but only employs 
two, corresponding likewise to *^ quarte " and " tierce." He combines the 
principles of the ** contra postura " and of the " trovare di spada " in his 
" contra-guardia," which is a regular ** engagement." This aftion of cover- 
ing the body when engaging blades he calls " coprire la spada del nemico," 

^ See Biblio., 1619, 1630, and 1665. 

' See Figs. 62-3-4: prima, seconda, terza, quaria. 

» See Biblio., 1588. 


and according as it is in " quarte " or " tierce," the aftion is " stringere di 
dentro via " or " di fuora via." Thrusts are made by disengaging and lung- 
ing; or, on the adversary's disengagement, by taking either a time with an 
opposition, or a circular parry with the arm extended. They are made in 
" high " and " low lines " without any difference in their designation. Feints 
are always simple, as complicated feints with the " spada longa," by no means 
admitting of a swift motion, would have entailed the risk of time hits. 

One of Giganti's plates represents an adtion which closely resembles the 
modern " flanconnade " — the *' fianconata" of the Italians. 

It appears that Giganti published, two years later, a second work, in 
which he advocates a guard with the left foot foremost, and announces his 
intention of bringing forth another treatise, " wherein he will show that all 
adions can be performed with the left foot forward.'* 

This incomprehensible retrogression to faulty principles is not accounted 
for, neither did the book in question ever make its appearance. In its stead 
were published French and German translations, as well as fresh editions, of 
his first work. 

Giganti's book was wonderfully perfeft and complete in comparison 
with the mass of those which were written before it ; but of all the Italian 
works on fencing none ever had such a share in fixing the principles of the 
science as the "Great Simulacrum of the Use of the Sword, by Ridolfo 
Capo Ferro da Cagli, Master of the most excellent German Nation in the 
famous City of Sienna." ^ The theories which he enunciated, the system 
that he followed, and many of his ^* ferite," were hardly improved on by 
anyone before the days of RosaroU and Grisetti. For once the title of 
the book fully represented its contents. 

This small but comprehensive work is divided into introduAory 
chapters full of clear definitions and correft conclusions and a large coUeAion 
of praftical examples. 

The first two chapters treat of the science of arms in general. 

The third, of the properties of the sword, the divisions of the blade, and 
the strength and use of its diflFerent parts, of the false and the right edges, 
and the proper length of the sword, which the author considers ** should be 
as long as the arm twice." 

The fourth defines the diflFerent " measures," which he reckons as the 
distance between the point of the sword and the adversary's body. The 
measures are two : " misura larga " when it is only possible to hit the enemy 
by lunging ; " misura stretta " when this can be done by merely pressing the 
body forward. 

The fifth explains the meaning of " time " and its restriftion, in fencing 
parlance, to the period occupied by any single aftion, either of sword or foot. 

* Sec Biblio., 16 10. 


The sixth treats of the body, and in particular of the head — a con- 
sideration of importanccj since most of the hits in high hne were direded to 
the face. 

The seventh considers the trunk itself, which should be bent forward as 
much as possible, so as to diminish its apparent surface, and increase the reach 
of the lunge. 

The eighth defines the role of the arms, and for the first time is the use 

Fig. 62. — Capo Ferro. — a. Primi Goardit ; d. Quaru Guardia. 

of the left arm as a counterpoise to the right and a help to the recovery, 
clearly mentioned in any book. Capo Ferro lays much stress on the neces- 
sity of turning the hand in pronadon or supination according as the thrust is 

Fig; 63, — Capo Ferro, 

SeiM Guardia. 

to be made outside or inside the adversary's blade, and disapproves highly 
of the old-fashioned habit of keeping the sword arm bent. 

The ninth analyzes the movements of the thighs, legs, and feet, and 
describes the various steps used in fencing. .For the first time we find a 


pretty clear definition of the closing step, that is, with the right foot forward, 
ibllowed by the left. Capo Ferro, although he admits the use of oblique 
steps on occasion, is very strongly in favour of the straight line. He con- 
sequently disapproves of much " volting," of crossing the legs, and all such 
tricks, which were so much in favour with the ancients. He even looks upon 
" passing '' as a loss of time which might be avoided by closing the measure 
before lunging, and considers a good recovery as one of the most important 
points in fencing. 

The tenth treats of defence, and in particular of the guard. Capo Ferro 
goes further than any of his predecessors in his definition of that word. 

Rg. 64. — Capo Ferro. — c. Terza Guardia ; b. Quinta Guardia. 

** A guard is a posture with the arm and the sword extended in a 
straight line towards the middle of the attackable parts of the adversary, and 
with the body well established according to its own pace, so as to keep the 
adversary at a distance, and to strike him should he approach at his peril." 
According to his definition he recognizes that "prima" and "seconds"' are 
of little use, " for with these one cannot close the measure without danger, 
since they are not equally near all parts of the body. The terza is a true 
guard ; the quarta uncovers too much of the body." 

Considering that these two guards had pretty elastic meanings, that they 
referred only to the inside and outside lines, and that they were opposed to 
low thrusts as well as high ones, it is obvious that to them can be traced the 
origin of the four princi^ guards which are now considered, stri<aJy speaking, 
sufficient for all purposes of defence, viz., carte, tierce, half circle, seconde. 

This restriAion reduced the other two, prima and seconda, to the rank 
of special parries, applicable only to special cases. 

' See platei. 


The eleventh considers the faftors of " ofFensive aftion," the most im- 
portant of which consists in seeking the measure. This, according to Capo 
Ferro, ought to be done with much caution and patience, and without dis- 
turbing the body until the moment of striking. " Many, in seeking the 
measure, disengage and counter disengage, make feints and counter feints, 
cover themselves from one side to another, travelling in zigzags, twisting 
their bodies, doubling themselves up, and drawing back in many extravagant 
ways, contrary to good principles, and calculated only to impress fools. 

** However, with my guard, the only precaution necessary is to hold 
the sword straight in front and cover the * weak' of the adversary's blade, 
so as to have power over it without touching it, before the moment of 
delivering the thrust, either on the inside or the outside, according to the 


The twelfth chapter classifies the modes of striking on various occasions, 
as when one or the other combatants, or both, are moving, when the thrust 
is delivered inside or outside, high or low, &c. Capo Ferro disparages the 
habit of cutting in most cases, except oi^ horseback, as it entails loss of time 
and necessitates a closer measure. 

The last chapter deals shortly with the question of the dagger in con- 
junftion with the sword. 

One of the most obvious principles of the new school is that the sword 
alone is sufficient for defence. The brochiero or target is generally aban- 
doned in Italy, and the dagger, no longer looked upon as of paramount 
importance, is only considered advantageous for facilitating the counter 

The introduftory chapters expound at length the leading principles of 
the science. Next come many practical declarations, in which the author 
admits that there is a wide margin between the art in its theoretical perfeftion 
and its praftice. He proceeds accordingly to give general recommendations 
for praAical swordsmanship against the world at large. 

I. "First of all, when anyone is engaged in fighting, he must keep his 
eye on his adversary's sword hand, rather than on any other spot, so as to 
see all its movements, and consequently judge of what he had better do. 

a. " A good swordsman, when playing, must never fail, on parrying, to 
retort with a thrust, nor must he go forward to strike without being sure of 
parrying the return ; he must not throw himselt aside without striking at 
the same time, and should he parry with the dagger, he must attend to 
letting his sword strike at the same instant as the dagger moves to parry. 

3. "It is to be understood that the sword is the Queen, the foundation 
of all weapons, and that the praftice thereof is all the more useful, that there- 
by a man learns to parry, strike, and escape, to disengage, counter disengage, 
and gain on the adversary's weapon in all the guards. In the above-mentioned 


movements my advice is to keep the arm well extended, so as to force all the 
adversary's hits well away from the body. 

4. " Shouldst thou have to deal with a brutal adversary, who, heedless 
of time and measure, attacks thee impetuously, thou canst aft in two ways : 
firstly, by using the ' mezzo tempo,' as I teach in the proper place, thou 
canst hit him on his attack with a cut on the hand or the sword arm ; or, 
secondly, thou canst let him strike in vain by retiring backward and then 
thrust at his face or breast. 

5. " Anyone who wishes to become an accomplished swordsman must, 
beyond taking lessons from a master, strive to play every day, and with 
different antagonists, and when possible he must seleft better fencers than 
himself, so that by playing with so many praftical men, he may see wherein 
dwells perfeft merit. 

6. ** In my book on the art I acknowledge only one good guard, that is, 
the low guard, called terza, with the sword held straight out horizontally, so 
that it divide the right side by the middle, and so that the point be always 
menacing the opponent's body. This guard is much safer than the other, 
with which there is the danger of being wounded in the leg. . . . 

7. " Feints are not good, for they cause loss of time and distance ; in 
faft, feints must either be made within distance or out of it. If made out of 
distance, they are useless, as thou needst not answer them. If, on the other 
hand, the adversary feints within distance : as he feints, strike." 

8. Contains a warning against imperfeft teachers. 

9. '* It is no small advantage, and of the greatest elegance, to know how 
to * gain ' on the adversary's sword in all his guards, and no less so, when 
the adversary himself has * gained' on thy sword, to know how to recover 
the advantage ; thou canst do different things in such cases : first, never dis- 
engage and stop, but rather disengage as a parry and then strike ; also by 
retiring a little, and slightly dropping the body, thou canst lower thy sword, 
and as the adversary follows on, at the self-same instant that he approaches 
to * gain ' afresh, strike him under or over his sword, as may be most con- 

10. " In many ways it is possible to strike in 'contra tempo,' but I 
only approve of two methods. One is, when thou findest thyself with thy 
sword in ^ quarta,' so that the point is inclined towards thy right, and thy 
adversary strives to * gain ' on thee, then, at the very instant that he moves 
his right foot in order to rest his sword on thine, thrust at him in the same 
position of quarta, * passing' the left foot forward, or Munging ' with the 
right. The other is when thou findest thyself in terza, and he comes to 
* gain ' on thee from outside, then thou must aft similarly. 

11. " Many and various are the opinions of masters on the subjeft of 
passes sword in hand. I say, according to my judgment, that in passing to 


the right of the adversary, as well as to his left, it is advisable always to 
move the left foot, and accompany its motion by that of the right. If thou 
shouldst have to pass in a straight line, one foot must drive the other, 
whether forward or backward.* But the true meaning of passing is to walk 
naturally, always taking care that the right shoulder be kept forward, and 
that when the left foot goes across, its point be turned to the left. 

1 2. " Thou must know that when thy adversary has his sword point 
out of line, thou must immediately point thine straight at his hand. By 
bending the body slightly back thou canst gain the measure in safety, and 
having gained it, deliver a thrust in ^ mezzo tempo ' at his hand by pressing 
the body forward and bending the right knee. 

13. " Having delivered thy thrust with a long step, right foot for- 
ward, with sword alone, or with sword and dagger or cloak, thou must retire 
with a short step, according to the room in rear. If there be little room, 
thou must only remove back the right leg, and follow with thy sword that of 
thy adversary. If, on the contrary, there be much room, thou must retire 
two short steps, so that the last brings thee back on guard. These are the 
only true ways of retiring, although they do use others in the schools.*' 

Concerning Parries. 

" Parries are made sometimes with the right edge, sometimes, though 
very rarely, with the false ; in a straight line as well as obliquely ; now with 
the point high, now with the point low; now under, now over, according as 
the attack is cut or thrust. But it is to be borne in mind that all parries 
ought to be done with a straight arm, and must be accompanied by the right 
leg, followed by the left When the * dui tempi ' are observed, as the parry 
is made, the left foot must first be brought up against the right, and then, 
as the attack is returned, the right foot must move forward. " 

Concerning those who move round their Adversary 

IN Fighting. 

This is a piece of advice on the way of meeting those who, according 
to the old school and the Spanish method, walked round and round their 

" As it might easily occur that thy adversary in moving round and 
round should ' gain ' inside on thy sword, in such a case thou shouldst dis- 
engage and move sideways. On his trying to * gain ' again, thou shouldst 
again disengage and thrust in quarta, with a lunge." 

^ This action is obviously similar to our way of advancing and retiring, and very 
different from the true pass, although Capo Ferro devises no special term for the movement. 


Beyond the legend of Pig. 65 Capo Ferro gives no explanation of the 
manner of performing the " botta iunga." The following extraA from 
Giganti's " Teatro " may therefore conveniently be introduced here : — 

*' To deliver the 8toccata Iunga, place thyself in a firm attitude, radier 
collefted than otherwise, so as to be capable of further extension. Being 
thus on guard, extend thy arm and advance the body at the same time, and 

Fig. 65. — Capo Ferro, 1610. — "A figure Bhowiog the guard, u pnAised in our 
art, and the incredible increase of reach due to the ' boEU Iunga," — all the limbs 
moving together in the attack." 

"a. The left ihoulder, on guard. 
B. The left knee, on guard, 
c. The lole of the left foot, on guard. 

D. The usual pace. 

E. The sole of the right foot, on guard, 
r. The right knee, on guard. 

c. The right hand, on guard. • 

H. The increase in the reach of the hand due to the'.' lunge.' 

t. The advanced position of the right knee, equivalent to one pace. 

K. The advanced position of the foot. 

11. The left knee advanced by half a pace." 

bend the right knee as much as possible, so that thy opponent may be hit 
before he can parry. Wert thou to advance the whole oody, thy adversary 
would perceive it, and, by taking a time, parry and strike thee at the same 
moment. . . . 

" In order to retire, begin the movement with the head, and the body 
will naturally follow on ; then likewise draw back thy foot ; if thou wert to 
retire it first, both head and body would remain in danger. ..." 

' " Botta Iunga " — Lunge. 


Fig. 66. — Capo Ferro, 1610. — Modo di ferir di fiioM, prosupponendo i1 
tcringere di dentro et il civsr del tuo averurio di punta per ferire. — Time thniit, 
by a lunge, on the idveraar}''i diaeogagement. 

** Had the man marked c, however, shown himself skilful in his art, 
he would merely have disengaged his sword and kept his body well back^ 
and then, as the man marked d confidently came forward to push his thrust 
he might have parried, either with tha false edge and cut a mandritto, or 
with the right edge and thrust an imbroccata." 

Fig. 67. — Allieri,' 1640. — Pigura che feriice di p«sata mentre che I'sverurio 
cava per ferire. — Time tfaruat, by a pass, on the adverHTy't diaengagemeDt. 

" Had," says the author, " the man marked 14 perceived his opponent's 
intention, he might have thwarted the counter attack by drawing back his 
right leg so as to be out of measure, or else he might, by crossing to his left, 
have delivered an imbroccata at his enemy's breast." 

* See Biblio. This and many other platei of Allieri'g treatise are cxaft reproduftioni — 
but for the costumes — of tome of Capo Ferro's, and are reproduced liere for the lake of variety. 


Fig. 68. — Capo Fctto. — Figura che feriice di quartt nelk poccia aotto il braccio 
dntro, mcDtre che I'avertuio cava per rerire. — Time tbniit in qiurta on the adver- 
Mry'i atlcmpt to deliver a riverso. 

" On the other hand," continues Capo Ferro, *' if the man who is now 
wounded, instead of turning his hand round to give the riverso, had retired 
one short step and drawn back his sword, he might have parried the attack 
hy a half mandritto, and cut his opponent's face immediately with a riverso, 
or give him a thrust in the bosom.' 

Kg. 69. — Capo Ferro, — Figura chc ferijce di (cannatura di punta nel fianco 
deitro di patsaia, mentre I'avergario cava per ferire. — A thrust by a pats, uiing 
the left hand to hold the adversary'i iword arm, timed on hit di«eiigagement. 

" A stroke of this kind is said to be di ' scannatura ; ' to perform the 
same the man here shown on the left of the pifture kept himself well covered 
on the outside, and when his adversary disengaged in order to thrust at his 
^e, he passed forward, left leg in front, and put in his own thrust, using his 
hand as you observe." 


Fig. 70, — Alfieri,' 16+0. — Figun chc feriace wtto U spada nimici, di contra- 
tempo, senu parue, aolo con I'lbasur la vita. — A time thrust, on the advertary'i 
disengigement, by dropping nnder his point. The swordsman marked 25 h» also 
the choice of a thrust at the face, or ■ riveno cut at his adversary's knee. 

Fig. 71. — Capo Ferro, 1610. — Figura che ferisce di qoarta nella gola, solo con 
afalsar la spada ct abassar il pugnale per parata, mcntre raveTsario cava di ipada e 
ccrca col pugnale per parare. 

" If thy adversary be in terza alta, and holding his di^er on a level 
with the fort of his sword, cover thyself well outside ; as he disengages parry 
with the dagger, low and to the left ; at the same time disengage with thy 
sword under his dagger and thou shatt strike him in the face or any other 
convenient place." 


Fig. 72. — Cipo Ferro. — Figara chc ferUcc di qnarta per i\ »otti> il pugnale 
nel petto, portuido in dietra U gimba dritta, e parando col pugnale alto, mentre 
chc I'avenario pasta con la >ua gamba innanzi per ferire di seconds sopra il pugnale. 

"Should thy adversary assume terza bassa, thou shouldst oppose him 
with terza alta, and hold thy dagger on a level with thy blade. As he passes 
forward to strike thee over thy dagger, thou canst strike him in quarta by 
merely drawing back thy right foot, lifting his sword with thy dagger, and 
disengaging thy sword under his dagger, as he lifts the latter to parry." 

Rg. 7J. — Capo Ferro. — Figuri che feriice di leconda sopra il pugnale ncl petto, 
mentre che I'averiario pasta col pie manco per ferire, tolo col ritirare, nel tuo venire, 
la ^unba dritta indictro e parando col pugnale soito il suo braccio deitro. 

" Should thy adversary place himself in quarta, with his sword drawn 
back and his digger high anci wide,' I advise thee to place thyself in quarta 
also, but with the arm extended. As he attacks by a pass draw back thy 
right leg, beat his sword down to the left with thy dagger, and pass thy sword 
over his dagger. Thou shalt be able to strike him in seconda." 

' See Fig. 62, p. 108. 


Fig. 74. — Capo Ferro. — Figure che feriicc di una punta tra I'armc nel petto, 
cavandola di *opra il pugnale, menire che I'aversario Btava in guardia larga ei lascia 
arrivare il Dimico a mi aura .—Simple diseDgagement under the dagger pushed with 

Pig- 75- — Capo Ferro. — Figura che para il stramazzone riverso con la spada 
et con il pauare in un aubito col pie tiniatro innanzi, dandoU una pugnalata totco 
11 bracao deatro nella poccia. — A atab with the dagger delivered by a paai and limed 
on the adveraary's cut, which la parried at the aame moment hy a high quarta. 


Fig. 76. — Capo Ferro, — Sword and Cloik. The cloat 11 turned twice rouod 
the forearm ; parriei with it ate prRdicRllf the same aa with the dagger. Even 
cuts maj' be stopped with the cloak, provided they be met on the fort of the 

Fig. 77. — Capo Ferro, — Sword and Buckler. Againit thrusts the buckler it no 
better protcAion than the dagger, at it must necetiarily be held lidewaj's so as not to 
interfere too much with the play. 

Capo Ferro concludes his work with an account of a parry which he 
calls universal, useful in a melee or in the dark, but one which, ^m our 
point of view, it seems very easy to deceive. It is a sweeping parry, crossing 
all the lines from tierce to seconde, passing through carte. 

Girard Thibtuit, d'Anvcn. 


|HE existence of the " Academic d'Armes " in PariSj whose origin 
dates as far back as the reign of Charles IX., and which received 
its first privileges &om Henri III., shows how assiduously the 
science of arms was cultivated by the French ; yet, before the 
middle of the seventeenth century, we hear of very few masters 
of note bearing French names. Noel Carre, Saind Didier, Jacques Ferron, Le 
Flaman, and Petit Jean are the only Frenchmen known to have been teachers 
of the art of fence to the most quarrelsome society that ever existed. None 
of them, except Sainft Didier, seem to have left any works behind them. 


and even the very much overrated *^ gentilhomme Provencal *' did little 
more than curtail and combine the theories of two contemporary Italians. 

Henri IV. and Louis XIII., whilst they vigorously persecuted such 
scholars as tested the theory pradically by duelling, favoured the corporation 
of masters in a most partial manner ; nevertheless, until the end of the latter 
king's reign, the Italian masters held their own in France, whether they 
entered the Academy, or eluded its not yet all-powerful monopoly. It is highly 
probable, however, that men like the Cavalcabos, being appointed masters to 
the king, were, ex officio^ members of the corporation, even if they did not 
hold some distinguished office therein. 

Passages occur in most Spanish treatises of the first half of the seven- 
teenth century, containing descriptions of the French method of fencing 
which accord most completely with what we know to have been taught by 
the Cavalcabos, Giganti, Patenostrier, "e tutti quanti." This is a useful 
indication in the absence of French treatises between Sainft Didier and Le 
Perche ; ' it seems naturally to point out that ±he sound principles of the 
Bolognese school took root in France and remained long the basis of the art 
of fence in the " Academic du Roi." 

With their aptitude and liking for swordsmanship, the French soon 
rivalled the Italians in the national art of the latter, until, about the middle of 
Louis XIII.'s reign, it was so completely assimilated as to have ceased to be 
looked upon as coming from foreign parts. The courtiers of James and 
Charles came over to Paris to perfed: themselves in the science which they 
had learnt from the successors of Saviolo and Rocco. 

It is, however, surprising that nothing beyond the book of Villamont 
should have appeared in print on this Franco-Italian art, which was held in 
such high estimation. 

Notwithstanding the universal adoption of the Italian sword-play by the 
French, there were, no doubt, also a great many Spanish masters who taught 
the pompous science of Narvaez to the Hispanicized courtiers of Louis XIII. 
The influence of Spanish fashion had survived the downfall of Spanish prepon- 
derance ; the height of " bon ton " in France during the first quarter of the six- 
teenth century was to imitate, as closely as the difference of races would allow, 
the gravity not unmixed with affecftation, the dignity tempered by the most 
extraordinary weaknesses, of those conquerors who had once held a footing in 
most parts of the Continent The "estilo culto," which took firmer root at 
the French Court than did euphuism in England, necessitated, for its perfec- 
tion, a knowledge of the philosophical "destreza" and its decorous bearing. 

There can be no doubt, however, that for praSlical swordsmanship the 
Italian teachers remained masters of the situation. This is borne out by the 

^ Villamont's bookis only a translation (see Biblio., 1609), and Thibaust's learned treatise 
an embellished enlargement of Carranza and Narvaez. 


faft that the Spanish school had no influence whatsoever on the French system 
of fence even at its earliest period, and, indeed, did not remain in favour, 
even as a matter of fashion, much after 1 630. 

There is only one book known treating of this Hispano-French fencing, 
but that book is a monument in itself. 

" The Academy of the Sword, by Girard Thibaust of Antwerp,* wherein 
are set forth by mathematical rules, on the basis of a mysterious circle, the 
true and heretofore unknown secrets of the use of weapons on foot and on 
horseback," can be reckoned, without exception, the most elaborate treatise 
on swordsmanship, and probably one of the most marvellous printed works 
extant, from a typographic and artistic point of view. 

If the hand^some man whose intelligent and keen countenance is depiAed 
in the frontispiece over the significant motto, " Gaudet patientia duris," 
had devoted to the complete illustration of the sound Italian school of his 
days the immense labour that he bestowed on the Spanish system, he would, 
without a doubt, have beenjooked upon as the founder of the science of arms 
in France. As it was, the Tifetime which he spent on the production of this 
Academy — the impression of which alone took fifteen years— only resulted 
in the prod uft ion of a bibliographic curiosity. By the time the first part of 
the book came out, the infatuation for Spanish fashions was already on the 
wane. The premature death of the author in 1629,' before even having 
the satisfadlion of seeing his first volume in print, prevented the produftion 
of the second part of the work treating of equitation. The expense entailed 
by this extraordinary work could only have been met with the support of the 
French king, who was, as everyone knows, a great amateur of fencing; 
nevertheless Thibaust was not his master, as Henri I V. had appointed Cesar 
Cavalcabo, son of the great Bolognese, to teach the prince. Be it as it may, 
Louis XIII. granted his privilege to the author ten years before the completion 
of the book, for which nine reigning princes of Germany likewise subscribed. 

Anyone looking at the huge folio, with its forty-six superb double-page 
plates signed by the best engravers of the age, and the unique typographical 
magnificence of the text, must at first wonder how the author who was 
in a position to bring out such a work never had the smallest influence 
on the development of the science of arms in any country, and that so few of 
the principles which he spent a lifetime and a fortune in expounding remain 
a part of modern theories. The faft is, that in the elaborate plates, each 
often containing upwards of fifteen pairs of fencers gravely passing on each 
other in all the plans of a vast perspeAive of marble halls, nothing is 
represented but an artistic illustration of the Spanish system set forth at 
such length by Don Luis P. de Narvaez ; in the text, on the other hand, 

* See Bihlio., 1628. 

' Although bearing the date 1628, the book was only published in 1630. See Bihlio. 



methodical and highly correfted as it is, we find nothing but the complication 
and subtilization, so to speak, of that already sufficiently artificial science. 
Girard Thibaust never acknowledges the source of his information, nor 

Fig. 78. — Thibaust's mysterious Circle. 

docs he mention the name of any master, but it is merely necessary to turn to 
the first plate to recognize the illustration of Narvaez's peculiar principles, 
complicated, however, by the introduftion of even more irrelevant geometrical 


and mechanical theorems. Thibaust's treatise is indeed *^ filosofia de las armas,** 
with a vengeance. 

The diameter of the mysterious circle which, in his opinion, is the foun- 
dation of the science of arms, divides the length of a kind of anatomical pre- 
paration in two parts, one of which is skeleton and the other still adorned with 
its flesh. The extremities of this diameter rest against the ends of this 
figure's extended hand and between its heels ; the length of the human body, 
so disposed, represents the first dimension of the mystic diagram. 

It appears, according to Thibaust, that, in a properly construfted man, 
the navel divides equally the length of a line joining the heel to the uplifted 
finger above the head ; consequently the horizontal diameter of the circle 
passes across this spot. Narvaez had mentioned that the length of the sword 
should be proportional to the man's height, and Capo Ferro and others had 
fixed this length to twice that of the arm. Thibaust, in order to harmonize 
the proportions of the sword with both the mystic circle and the first measure 
of its dimension, requires the sword blade to be equal to the radius, so that 
when held perpendicularly between the feet the quillons are on a level with 
the navel. 

In the circle are inscribed, first, a square whose diameter is that occupied 
by the anatomical figure; secondly, a large number of chords. The points of 
interseftion of these chords divide them into lengths bearing a relation — which 
is explained on the most artificial postulata — to the various proportions of the 
body, and, consequently, to all its movements. They mark the relative posi- 
tion of all the steps that may be taken by either combatant to obtain physical 
advantage over certain parts of his adversary's body. A circle such as we 
have briefly described can be traced roughly on the ground wherever it is 
wanted, by standing in an upright attitude, heels joined on the spot intended 
for the centre, and extending the arm, holding a sword of requisite dimen- 
sions obliquely down, so that when it just touches the ground, the point, the 
wrist, and the shoulder are in one straight line. The distance between the 
sword-point and the heels can then be taken as a radius, and the mysterious 
circle drawn with all its accompanying chords. Finally, a square is circum- 
scribed to the figure, and the pupils are placed with their left feet at the 
opposite extremities of this square's diameter, and their right touching the 

The operations of every bout are to be performed in the circle, or along 
the square, by stepping from one to the other of the aforesaid points of intcr- 

But before beginning these strategic movements the pupils are instrufted 
in the more taliical operations of striking and parrying. Just as the Spanish 
masters, Thibaust pradically teaches but one guard, with the body perfeftly 
ereft, the knees straight, the feet but a few inches apart and forming an angle 


of forty-five degrees with.each other, the arm extended horizontally and holding 
the sword on a straight line with the shoulder. But, if there is only one 
guard, the parries are as numerous as the possible opportunities for them ; 
one condition only, for a proper parry, being that the fort should always be 
opposed to the faible. 

The adversaries assume the guard out of measure, and then begin stabbing 
at, and inveigling, each other. 

This system is most palpably that of Narvaez : the adversaries begin 
on opposite sides of a certain circle, the diameter of which bears some relation 
to the length of the blades. Outside that circle are drawn parallel tangent 
lines — the sides of the circumscribed square — which are no other than the 
" lineas infinitas " of the Spaniard. 

This straight arm guard is the starting point for cuts and thrusts de- 
livered to all parts of the adversary's body, but preferably to his face, as soon 
as the " passing " operations have brought about a favourable opportunity. 

The thrusts are not defined beyond their division into imbroccata, over 
the arm, and stoccata, under the arm, but they seem to be invariably delivered 
like stabs, with a jerk, by the arm alone, as the weight of the body must 
always be kept as well balanced between the feet as possible, in order to allow 
a rapid performance of the complicated series of steps taught in this science. 

As in Narvaez, the cuts are well classified into : shoulder cuts, forearm 
and wrist cuts, with regard to the attacking party ; and as perpendicular, 
oblique, ascending and descending, with regard to the side operated upon. 

Armed with these principles, and imbued with the notion of the infallible 
virtue of the passes they are about to perform, the scholars face each other 
with irreproachable dress and grave countenances. The master then proceeds 
to explain his science and expound its application to the most probable cases. 
He first demonstrates that the distances between the points of interseftion 
agree *' most naively " with the natural paces of man, and that a careful 
choice of such points will determine an infallibly successful " instance," or 
approach on the enemy. The governing rule touching the choice of 
*' instances" is, that any succession of points approximating to the diameter 
of the circle is dangerous. This is a double-distilled manner of explaining 
Carranza's theory that to walk straight on the adversary entails the danger of 
a time hit. Thibaust goes on to say that the time bears a ratio to the length of 
the paces, " as can be proved to the curious by mathematical rules," forgetting 
that to any .commonsense person the time employed in delivering a hit is 
obviously proportional to the number of paces taken in so doing. 

One of the pupils is sacrificed for the sake of the demonstrations, whilst 
the other circumvents him in perfedly correft style. 

The points of interseftion of the mysterious lines are numbered from a 
to z. Alexander, the corred pupil and representative of the master's genius. 


begins at a, and Zacharia, the ingenuous tyro, places his foot on z. Either 
Alexander or Zacharia begins the attack, and, according to Zacharia's move- 
ments, the learned Alexander steps rapidly, and with great deliberation, from 
A to E or F, avoiding the point or warding it aside, and so on to any letter, 
until he is in a position of vantage, and can coolly run his wretched opponent 
through the eye, or hamstring him, according to his fancy. 

Narvaez taught his pupils to dodge about, avoid some hits and parry 
others, so as to try and " gain " on their adversaries ; he gave rules for certain 
cases calculated to enable the fencer to oppose his fort without difficulty to 

Fig. 79. — The disadvantage of not atepping cor- 
re£Uy across ihe mysierious circle. — Thibausi. 

his adversary's faible, but Thibaust goes further and maintains that if 
Alexander only take his paces correifUy, Zacharia can noi help himself and 
must submit to the cruel treatment illustrated in the plates. 

Such a system is really incredible. How the Italian and the French masters 
must have laughed when the gorgeous work appeared, and wished that they 
but held some of Thibaust's pupils, sword in hand, at the opposite end of the 
mysterious diameter, with an opportunity of delivering a " stoccata lunga " on 
the first symptom of such peregrination. 

Such as it is, the huge folio is certainly one of the most curious books 
extantj and shows what power fashion could have over people's intelligence. 


It was the fashion in Spain to fight according to artificial rules, France 
copied Spanish fashions, and enough support was afforded to an eccentric 
master or fence in Flanders to enable him to bring out this enormous volume 
of nonsense in the mast gorgeous manner that the Leyden Elzevirs could 

To the student, however, the "Academic de I'Espee" has one special 
merit, — it supplies the want of illustration to the Spanish books of that period. 
NegleAing the text of Thibaust's preposterous assurance that there can be no 
" imprevu " in fencing, the plates represent very accurately what Spanish 
fencing remained until the middle of the eighteenth century. Curiously 

Fig. 80. — Circles Nos. i and 2. 

enough, the dogmatic Thibaust, who is loth to admit anything but perfeiftly 
definite faftors in his calculations, speaks of " le sentiment de I espee," " sen- 
timent du fer," as moderns would call it, in a way which would indicate that 
his praAice was better than his method. 

The description of a few bouts will suffice to illustrate the manner in 
which these principles were put in aAion. The explanations of each circle 
correspond to what modern masters would call " une phrase d'epee." 

Circle No. i. 
" At the same instant that Alexander drops his foot on the point marked 
G, Zacharia steps forward and delivers an * imbrocade' at his breast. The 
adversaries having previously been on guard at the first instance with their 


swords held straight and parallel, Alexander began to work round in order to 
master his ' contrary's ' blade on the second instance x, on the inner side of 
the diameter. This doing, at the same moment that he places his right foot 
on the letter o, and proceeds in a circular manner with the left, Zacharia 
bears on him, carrying his right foot inside the circle as ^ as the letter s, 
on the inner side of the diameter, bending forward on the right foot, and 
rounding the arm by the same aftion so as to turn the exterior branch of the 
sword vertically upwards. Thus he delivers the imbrocade on his adversary's 
breast, proceeding further by carrying the left foot outside, on the inside of 
the quwlrangle. All this is represented by the figure of the Circle No. i ." 

Fig. 8i. — The Sword alone against ihc Sword and Dagger. The learned 
Alexander, armed with the sword alone, defeats Zacharia and his double weapon 
by menacing an "cstocade" as is shown here, and as his opponent comes to 
parry with hia dagger, faiting (o his right and striking hint over his dagger 

This operation is only explained here to demonstrate with greater evidence 
the intention that Zacharia hopes to carry out, in order that it may be easier 
to comprehend the operations of Alexander represented by the following 

Circle No, 2. 

" Alexander foreseeing the imbrocade that his contrary is about to deliver, 
at that moment surprises the adverse blade, turning round with his left side, 
outwards, and presenting the point to his eyes. 

" As, therefore, the above-said operations of Alexander and Zacharia are 


begun and continued until the moment that Zacharla begins to advance his 
foot, round his arm, conduft and turn the exterior branch of his sword 
inwards on a level with his shoulder in order to drive his tmbrocade into his 
adversary's breast, Alexander is made clearly aware of his adversary's approach 
by the ' sentiment of the sword ' as well as the sense of sight. He therefore, 
at the right moment, stiffens his arm. and turns the interior branch of his 
sword vertically outside as high as the top of his head. In this wise he 
seizes the adverse blade from under, forces it upwards, turning away at the 
same time the left side of his body (where the blow had been aimed) by the 
judicious movement of his feet, and offering his point straight to his adver- 
sary's eye, but holding it withal by courtesy. In this manner Zacharia cannot 
advance further without wounding himself. So it is depi<fted in the figure," 


FTER such masters as Capo Feiro and Giganti it would be use- 

less to dwell long on their successors in Italy during the seven- 

I teenth century, wno all adopted their methods, without materially 

improving them. 
' Indeed, Torquato ' and his precepts are, if anything, retro- 

grade ; and of Quintino's * work it will be sufficient to give the tide, the 
quaintness of which recalls the phraseology of the early sixteenth century : — 

Fig. 8i. — Time thract, delivered as the «dveriary movea hit hand 
to cut at the head, Initead of the thrust at the face, a " mezzo- 
dritto" on ihe wri«, or a "roveicio" outude the knee might be 
used. — Alfieri, 1640. 

"Jewel of wisdom, in which are contained marvellous secrets and most 
necessary precautions concerning the art of defence gainst men and various 

' "Pre«tii »ulla Schcrma," Roma, 1609, ' See Biblio., 1613. 

animaisi newly given to the light by me, Antonio Quintino, for the use of 
all noble spirits ' — which marvellous secrets consist merely of his favourite 
tricks, unsupported by any method. 

Gaiani expounds various exercises applicable to the sword on foot and 
on horseback, but introduces no theoretical innovation of any kind. 

Alfieri's ^ work is, in all important points, produced on the lines of 
Capo Fcrro's. The plates, which are extremely artistic in the original, are 
more numerous than those of his model. The few here reproduced show 
how little the principles of the art had been altered since the beginning of 
the century. The dimensions of the sword, however, had been reduced by 
a few inches, and its weight by many ounces. 

Fig. 83. — A thruat timed on the adversary'* cut at the knee, whicli 
is avoided by drawing back the leg. A fendntt on the head, or a 
mezzo-driito on the wrist, could also be used in such ■ ca&e. — 

It was between 1560 and 1570 that the French began to develop a 
school of their own, distinft from that of the Italian masters. While Le 
Perche, Besnard, and La Tousche were laying the fundamental principles of 
what was to become the small-sword play, it may be well to consider briefly 
the works of contemporary Italians. 

In 1 660 there appeared " A treatise on the true management of the 

' See Biblio., 1640. Alfieri is also the author of work) on the management of the pike 
and the two-handed sword (spadone), and of a very curious one on the e&efUve display and 
flying of banners. 


sword," by the " Bolognese gentleman," Alexander Senese,' d«licated in 
curious Latin to Charles Ferdinand of Austria, and accompanied by many 
other proofs of classical knowledge. It contained, however, no real innova- 
tions. A cursory view of its contents will suffice to show the adaptation of 
the old principles to the somewhat lighter rapier of those days. 

The treatise touched on the various kinds of play, which were called : — 
" Giuoco lungo," * — fencing at long distance. " Giuoco perfetto," — 
so termed when, by rapid management of the feints, the thrust was delivered 
without meeting the adversary's blade. (This result, only obtainable from 
a light weapon, was considered perfcAion, and accordingly very difficult to 
acquire. It is curious that this point, which is clamed by the French as a 

Fig. 8+. — Sword and Cloak. Paralyzing the advenarjr's sword- 
arm by throwing the cloak over hi» blade. The choice of attacks 
lies between ■ thrust at the breast or the face, and a rovescio on the 
arm.— Al fieri, 1640. 

charaftcristic of their school, should have been so clearly stated by an early 
Italian master.) "Giuoco corto," — or fencing within measure, which the 
author disapproved of '* as being uncprtain." 

We may also notice the expressions : — 

" II peso," — the balance, — supposed to be perfcA if the weight of the 
body bore on the left leg when on guard, and on the right when attacking. 

" Tempo indivisibile," — which is taken when the repost results from 
the parry without any pause. 

' SeeBiblio. 

* The " development " of Capo Ferro and Giganii was ihen universally used. 



*^ Linea perfetta e linea retta," — keeping the line with the sword's 
point always diredly menacing the adversary. 

" Trovata di spada," — engaging the adverse blade, — which ought 
always to be preliminary to feints and binding. 

Senese taught the same guards as Fabris and Giganti, and one besides, 
in which the left knee is bent and the right kept straight. ** With this," he 
declared, " one can make parries which, in the street, are worth a treasure, 
and which cover a man absolutely " — a fadt which we may presume to doubt. 

Like Capo Ferro and Giganti he extolled one universal parry, capable, 
in his opinion, of meeting any blow whatsoever. This seems to have been 
a heavy sweep in seconde from a high quarte at arm's length. It is difficult 
to see, however, what virtue could be attached to that rather than to any 
other sweeping parry. 

Fig. 85. — Time thrust by a pass under the adversary's blade, as the 
latter lunges with the hand high. — Alfieri, 1640, 

Ten years later appeared " La Scherma illustrata " of Morsicato 
Pallavicini,^ a pupil of the great Matteo Gallici, who wrote nothing himself, 
but shone in the work of his pupil. 

The book is elaborate, but its chief interest lies in the various pieces of 
information it contains on contemporary and historical matters concerning 
fencing and fencing-masters. It seems that Morsicato Pallavicini travelled all 
over Europe, and from him we learn that the corporation of fencing-masters 
which had existed in Spain since the Middle Ages, still enjoyed their old 
monopoly in his days> and that no man could teach fencing who was not 
recognized by the General Examiner residing in Madrid. This may explain 
the stationary charafter of Spanish swordsmanship. 

* Sec Biblio., 1670. 



It also appears, according to his researches, that a similar institution 
ejdsted in Italy until about the time of Marozzo. 

The author professes to have had intercourse with swordsmen of all 
countries— Spanish, French, and • Roman— and stoutly maintains that the 
school of the latter is the best : — 

** From whose principles the Spaniards have derived their play ; a faft 
confirmed by Narvaez, a pupil of the great Carranza, who had discovered 
the true value of our principles." ' 

All the treatises on the art of arms refer to the sword proper, natur^y 
enough, and the illustrations invariably represent the complete success of some 
" botta " or other, so that it is with pleasure that we come across some 
indication of the kind of instrument that was used in pra£fice. 

Fig. 86. — A Counter. Stopping the adversary's attack with the 
dagger, and deceiving his parry by a cavazione over his left hand. — 
AlJieriy 1640. 

Pallavicini says that in his days they used in assaults swords provided 
with a button, " which, when wrapped in leather, was about the size of a 
musket ball." He also mentions cardboard plastrons as worn by fencers, 
but does not refer to masks of any kind. 

His points of theory differ but little from those of his predecessors, so 
we need only notice the expression "tirare in moto" — thrusting on the 
adversary's feint — as a definite method of taking a " time." This seems to 
have been done without necessarily engaging and disengaging or binding, and 
shows^ independently of what we know of the sword of that period, how very 

^ This is, however, an equivocation : Carranza traced the origin of Spanish swordsman- 
ship to the '* armatura " of the Romans, not to the Roman ** schools of fence." 


much lighter they must have been to allow of such quick motion. Cuts 
were still resorted to with the Italian rapier, and in consequence of its lessened 
length were possible in even greater number than those detailed by Marozzo 
and his contemporaries. 

Among the cuts most frequently used may be mentioned the " mezzo 
rovescio," delivered from the elbow at the adversary's left side ; the 
** stramazoncello," a tearing cut from the extreme point ; the " mandabolo " 
and the *^ montante sotto mano," both ascending cuts with the false edge, 
such as are still praftised with the featherweight Italian sabre. 

In the same year that Wernesson de Liancour ^ was publishing in Paris 
the great work which was to serve as a model to literary fencers in France 
and England, a celebrated Roman master — Marcelli' — expounded the 

Fig. 87. — Parrying inwards, passings and disengaging under the 
adversary's dagger. — Alfieri. 

** Rules of Fencing/' in a thick volume illustrated, indifferently it must be 
confessed, by drawmgs of his own. These " Regole de la Scherma " were 
taught by his father in Rome, and by his uncle in those Neapolitan schools 
which were then beginning to compete with the Bolognese. 

Amongst others of a similar style, the foUowing announcement to the 
reader occurs in the introdu<5tion : — 

" Read then, but with judgment ; learn, but fruitfully ; correA thyself, 
but on good grounds ; and bear in mind that if thou canst discover any fault 
with these principles of fencing, thou must indeed be a great man, unique 
in this world, for until now no other man has been able so to do/' 

Marcelli taught three guards : " prima," corresponding to the modern 
Italian carte ; " seconda " and " tcrza," corresponding to the two ways of 
taking the modern tierce in " giuoco Napolitano " and " giuoco misto " 

» See Biblio., 1686, France. > See Biblio., 1686^ Italy. 


(that is, his " seconda " was taken with the arm extended, hand in tierce, and 
his " terza " with the arm bent and the point elevated). 

These guards could be modified, in the same way as Capo Ferro's 
" quarta " and ** terza,'* to meet low thrusts. The position of the legs is 
the same as that recommended by Senese for proper balance or **peso," 
namely, the left knee is bent when on guard, so that the weight of the body 
bears principally on the left foot, whilst the right leg is kept nearly straight. 
This we may remark was also the guard adopted by the French masters of 
the period, and is shown in the figures taken from Liancour. 

The attack is formed — and this is the first time that such an exaA 
description of the Italian lunge is to be met with — " by first extending the 
arm, taking the right foot forward, bending the right knee, and straightening 
the left, at the same time the left arm — which on guard is kept bent, so that 
the hand is as high as the shoulder — is thrown back and extended in line with 
the right army 

The disengagements are the same as Capo Ferro's and Fabris', namely, 
" mezza cavazione " — disengagement from above downwards, in either line ; 
— ** cavazione" — disengagement from inside oxxX^xd^ty or vice versa ; ^*con- 
tracavazione '* and " ricavazione," our "contre" and "deception of the 

Marcelli passes for the inventor of the " botta " called " passata sotto," 
although it seems difficult to see on what grounds, since many bouts are 
explained by Fabris, Giganti, and Capo Ferro, which are similar to his ^' sotto 
botta." But, as far as can be ascertained, he is the first to explain the 
" intrecciata." This is a favourite aftion of the Italians, facilitated by their 
straight guard, consisting of a " froissement," — " striccio,*'- — followed either 
by disengagement, or a binding as in " fianconata." 

On the subjed of "tempo," Marcelli improves on the notion of*' tempo " 
proper by explaining clearly that when the repost cannot be given on the parry ^ 
— " culpo d'incontrazione," — it is better to deliver the attack on the adversary's 
recovery. He gives an indication of a parry which has disappeared from 
modern Italian pradice, and which is similar to our sixte or carte outside, 
when he recommends that thrusts delivered on the inside line be parried with 
the true, and those on the outside with the false edge. 

" L'Exercice des armesou le maniement du fleuret," published in 1635 
by Jean Baptiste Le Perche du Coudray, a pupil of the great Pater, the most 
famous French teacher of fence in Louis XIII. 's days, was the first of that 
long series of treatises brought out by masters of the " Academie Royale 

In Italy, as we have seen, fencing had but little progressed, in theory at 
least, since the early days of the century. But in France, owing probably to 
the greater variety of movements due to the lighter weight of the rapier there 


in fashion, more advance was made towards a methodical classification of 
strokes and parries. 

This improvement is clearly set forth in Besnard's ^ " Theory of the art 
and pradlice of the sword alone or the foil," a book which embodies all the 
progress made in sword-play since the days of H. Cavalcabo. 

There were still four guards, similar to those of Fabris and Giganti. 
But whilst the Italians had praftically discarded the two high ones to make 
their quarta and terza suffice for the whole work of parrying, the French, by 
improving the prima and seconda, that is, by modifying them so as to make 
it possible to thrust from those guards with a certain amount of security, had 
obtained a more varied play, and a greater choice of attacks. 

And so we gather from Besnard's work, that not only did they use the 
four natural guards, but that their respeftive " bottes " were pcrfeftly well 

" The thrust in prime," he explains, ** is given from above downwards, 
the wrist being held higher than the head. It is the thrust that one delivers 
just after drawing the sword. It is, however, a dangerous one, as it uncovers 
the body too much." This is the first mention of a thrust in " prime " 

Remembering that the old masters 'made quarta and terza parry in a 
high as well as in a low line, Besnard's definition of seconde will appear less 
strange to modern fencers. " The thrust in seconde is delivered in two ways, 
* tierce en seconde ' (nails down), and * quarte en seconde ' (nails up)." 
Both are on the inside of the sword. 

" The thrust in tierce is pushed on the outside and over the sword, 
nails down ; whilst the thrust in quarte is given inside the adversary's blade 
in this wise : at one and the same time you will push your thrust, turn the 
left side of the body as you throw out the arm, drop back the left arm on the 
hip, and extend the body in such a way that the right shoulder, right knee, 
and the toes of the right foot find themselves in the same perpendicular line." 

This is a fair definition of the lunge in quarte, but no great improve- 
ment thus far on the Italians. The French often made use of this 
"development," but not by any means in most cases, as it is generally 
believed. They lunged chiefly with the thrust in quarte, but used the- pass 
of the left foot whenever the aftion became at all complicated. In addition 
to the above four distinft "bottes," Besnard describes the ** flanconnade" in 
a way that shows that, as a botte, it has very little changed. But it was not 
an invention of his own, as some pretend, for many instances of similar 
thrusts are found in Fabris and Giganti. 

As a consequence of the improvement of the above-mentioned guards. 

Sec Biblio., France, 1653 ; in the same year appeared the second edition of Alfieri's 
treatise. See Italy, same date. 



the " engagement," which in the Italian school was only praAical in quarta 
and terza, became so with all the guards in the French style. 

" These four guards," Besnard explains, " bring about four engage- 
ments; the four engagements, four openings, and consequently four dis- 
engagements. The four disengagements suggest four feints." 

These four disengagements were nothing new. A disengagement from 
a low line to a high one is simply the aftion taught by the old Italian masters 
as " mezzo (or meggio) cavazione ; " but the systematic classification of 
feints, ^s derived from the guards themselves, was an innovation, and one in 
the right direftion. 

The Italians never classified their feints, which consequently never were 
refined, and thereby introduced an element of irregularity into their play 
which only disappeared under the influence of quite modern masters. 

The lightening of the sword forcibly brought the old question of 
" stcsso tempo " or " dui tempi " to the front again. With the long rapier 
rapid aftion of the hand was obviously impossible, and oflfensive power had 
to be cultivated in the parries ; in other words, the parry had to be formed 
in such a way as to aft as a repost. This resulted in an universal tendency 
to ** time," and causfd an amount of uncertainty in the parries which 
necessarily restridled the play, except when the dagger was adjoined to the 

As the fashion in swords became lighter and shorter, the advantage of 
parrying first and reposting afterwards became more obvious. 

Besnard, indeed, lets us see, although he does not expressly state it, that 
it was the rule among French masters to fence " en deux temps," that is, to 
parry and repost separately. From his time we begin to hear of parries 
proper, althougli they do not aftually, as yet, bear the name of their corre- 
sponding " botte." 

With separated parries and reposts the advantage naturally asserted 
itself of redoubling any attack which the adversary parried without reposting, 
and Besnard accordingly explains the aftion under the name of " reprise," 
which it has borne to this day. 

The sword then in use admitted of efFeAive parries with the false edge 
— weaker parries which would have been " forced " by the heavy rapier of the 
previous age. 

Besnard describes, but without naming them, parries in the four lines, 
wirh the right and false edges, with the hand in pronation and in supination. 
It is, therefore, probable that seven out of the eight modern parries, " prime, 
seconde, tierce, quarte, sixte, septime (half-circle), and oftave," were pradlised, 
after a manner, at the Academic d'Armes in France in the early days of 
Louis XIV.'s reign. 

Besnard seems to have been the first to have taught the courteous 


ptaftice of the "salute," which he calls *^ reverence." The rapier in favour 
among the French had not yet dwindled down to the proportions of the small 
sword, but cutting was considered quite as an obsolete adlion. The edge of 
the sword was preserved sharp, but only for the purpose of increasing its 
penetrating power and to prevent the seizing of the blade, and accordingly 
Besnard teaches that the use of the left hand for parrying is faulty. 

From the day when all cutting aftion was discarded, no reason remained 
for the necessity of praftising with flat blades, and the " fleuret " — the foil 
as we understand it now, fitted only for the thrust- -was devised for the sake 
of greater lightness. 

It is true that ^^ foils " are heard of long before that period, but the 
English word applied to all rebated * weapons, whether a sword for praftice, 
a lance, or any other weapon. 

About that period the French seemed to have wished to separate their 
school altogether from the Italian, and a curious result of this piece of 
^' Chauvinisme" showed itself in the shape of the foil they adopted.^ 

Whilst the Italian foil represented a rapier of diminutive weight, with 
** vette " and " coccia " complete, the French devised an implement the guard 
of which was composed of a kind of " pas d'anes," forming a crown at the 
shoulder of the blade. The grip was square and short, but nevertheless 
was held like the modern French foil, that is, all the fingers resting on the 
grip itself, instead of closing round theshoulder of the blade below the guard 
and through the ^* pas d'anes," as had been done previously. This guard 
had all the complication of that of the rapier without any of its advantages. 
It was all the more strange that the habit of crossing the fingers over the 
blade should have been discarded so soon with the French foil, as the arm 
was still held out very straight when on guard, after the manner of the 
Italians.* This curious foil, which was at first the same length as the sword 
it represented, became very much shorter towards the latter part of the 
seventeenth century, but the cumbersome guard never changed until about 
the middle of the eighteenth. 

There is no reason to believe that Besnard was the inventor of the more 
** subtils " principles set forth in his book, but in the absence of any other 
treatise during that period, their origin must be dated from his days. 

Twelve years later appeared a book * the influence of which has been 
greatly overrated, and which in faft advocated quite retrograde principles. 

The ** development " which had been so well defined by Besnard is 

* Foil, a rebated weapon, from the old French " fouler," ** rcfouler," to turn back. 

^ See Fig. 94, in which the old-fashioned French foil is bhown. The word fleuret, like 
the Italian fioreie, was applied to the buttoned foil on account of its resemblance to a 
flower bud. ^ See Figs. 89-93. 

* Philibcrt de la Tousche. See Biblio. 


exaggerated by La Tousche in such a manner as to become quite an acrobatic 
feat, and to prevent any possibility of smart recovery. 

This is how he describes the lunge : — 

On any of the five " bottes " (prime, seconde, tierce, t^uarte, and 
quinte — a high septime, as it would now be called), the arm being extended, 
the right foot takes as long a step as is anatomically possible, and the body 
is thrown forward until it aftually rests on the thigh. The left foot is 
turned on its side until the left ankle nearly touches the ground ; the head 
is dropped as low as possible. 

With such a lunge the fight could only be carried on by means of 
" remises," the first attack once parried. This performance was called an 
" estocade de pied ferme " — fted ferme sounds ironical applied to such an 

Fig. 88. — The " cstocidci dc pied fcrme, in prime and tierce," 
of La Toutche. From Dinei'i " Art dci Armet." 

Another mode of delivering the thrust was of course the " passe." The 
" estocade de passe " was performed in a similar manner, by passing the left 
foot in front, bending the body over the thigh till the chin rested on the left 
knee, and placing the left hand on the ground for the sake of equilibrium. 

La Tousche is apparently the first who applied the name disengagement 
— degagement — to that passage from one line to another which the Italians 
called " cavatione," and Besnard had termed " deliement." 

He names also a fifth guard, consequently a fifth engi^ment, and is the 
first to give to some parries the names of their corresponding " bottes," but, 
oddly enough, he restrifted this application to the first three. 

" There are three prlnciptal parries answering to the three ways that a 
thrust can be pushed, namely, inside, over, or under the blade (our quarte) ; 
inside, over with a high point (our tierce) ; and under with the point low 
(our seconde)." Circular parries — the " contra cavazione " of the Italians — 
were evidently pradised by some masters, for La Tousche is very particular 
to forbid them. 


Although an advocate of the '* Attaque de pied ferme," he is in favour 
of retiring, as a rule, on the parry. Voltes and passes are also, in his eyes, 
as good methods of avoiding a delivery as any. 

La Tousche is the first to describe that curious mode of holding the rapier 
with both hands, which seems to have been in favour in France throughout 
the second half of the seventeenth century. He gives the name of *^ La botte 
du paysan '* to one way of so using the sword, which consisted in seizing the 
blade with the left hand just below the guard, and thus with both hands 
beating the adversary's sword down or out of line, then passing with the left 
foot and delivering the point. 

On the whole, the theories of La Tousche are far behind those of Besnard, 
and, indeed, it would appear that they met with much detraAion, as he 
continually brings forth explanations in their defence. 

For all that, in his position of teacher to the Queen's household, and 
that of the Due d'Orleans, Philibert de la Tousche enjoyed a high position 
among his " confreres," and was as successful " a la cour " as " a la ville" : 
one plate of his book represents an assault in which he took part before 
Louis XIV. in the Palace of Versailles. 

Le Perche's " Exercice des armes, ou le maniement du fleuret" * con- 
tains however far sounder principles than the works of the royally favoured 
La Tousche. 

If he is really to be considered as the first who insisted on the impor- 
tance of the ** riposte," Le Perche can be looked upon as the father of the 
modern French school — ** quand la parade est bien faite,'' says he, " c'est un 
coup sur que la riposte." It is a pity that he followed at all the principles of 
La Tousche and his exaggerated movements. 

His attacks are pradically the same as those of Besnard and La Tousche, 
but he does not employ the " botte de prime," and keeps to the seconde and 
tierce, quarte, low quarte, quarte outside, and the flanconnade. 

He advocates three parries, devised to meet attacks inside, outside, and 
under the arms, which he calls ** quarte," " tierce," and " cercle " (our half- 
circle or septime). 

La Tousche taught similar parries under the names " quarte," " seconde 
pour le dessus," and '* seconde pour le dessous," the last of which was devised 
against all attacks in low lines. Le Perche is consequently the first who 
applied their modern names to the parries of tierce and circle (half-circle or 

Like all other masters of his days, he concerns himself greatly about 
various waysof dis^ming. 

Although recognizing the possibility of engaging in the four lines, he 
only aftually taught engagements in quarte and tierce. 

* See Biblio., 1676. 


SE Maistre d'armes ou I'exercice de I'espee seulle dans sa perfeiftion, 
fl par le S'leur de Liancour," notwithstanding its immense rcputa- 
•^ lion, contains nothing very original. But the author must have 
fl been a very sound master, and he seems to have eliminated from 
his teaching most of what was radically wrong in the theories of 
his predecessors. 

This book was obviously used as a model by many French and English 
masters until the latter part of the eighteenth century. 

Liancour recognized the five guards and thrusts, each individually named 
by some, but not all acknowledged by every one of his predecessors in the 
Academy, viz., the "prime," "tierce" and " quarte " of Besnard, the 
*' seconde " (pour le dessous) and the " quinte " of La Tousche, and the *' sep- 
time " (circle) of Le Perche, but he only advocates engagements in quarte and 
tierce, and parries in carte, tierce, seconde, and cercle (septime) ; the two 
former being taken with different altitudes of the hand, to meet attacks in 
low as well as in high line.' 

Like La Tousche, he forbids all parries in "contre degagement," and 
likewise discountenances the use of the left hand, and is as highly in favour 
of a distinft " riposte" as Le Perche. In fine, on matters of principle, he 
advocates all that was most rational in the French school of his days. 

The dislike of French masters for circular parries is explained by the 
fad that the sword, although much shorter, was still rather heavy in the 
hand, and a circular parry with such a weapon could not be so certain as a 
simple one. 

The Italians used the *' contra cavazione," but only with time thrusts, as 

' Fig. 89 shows [he orthodox manner of drawing and coming on guard ; 3 and 4 show 
guards in quarte at two difi>;rent degcces of altitude. 

Fig. 89-1, 

Fig. 95. — Thiust in q iartc, parried quane. — A thrutt in quini;.— Liar 


in such cases the increase of time entailed was compensated for by simplifica- 
tion of movement. In the French school, which kept parry and riposte 
separate, the praSfical difficulty of circular parries (contres) with a heavy 
sword must have been strongly felt. 

Besides the five " bottes " already mentioned, Liancour used of course 
the flanconnade, and taught also the *^ botte coupee," the ** quarte coupee 
sous les armes," and the " coupe " proper, as we understand it now, but without 
appearing to attach much value to this last important aftion, which was 
destined to become a distinguishing feature of the French school as separate 
from the Italian. 

He insisted on the proper performance of the lunge, which he considered 
as one of the fundamental principles of the art ; his development is essentially 
the same as ours, the left foot being kept flat on the ground, the right knee 
square over the instep, and the body well sustained. 

Although recognizing the general superiority of the lunge as a means 
of delivering the " bottes,** he still made use of passes and voltes. 

Liancour recommended the use of several diflferent kinds of foils : *' The 
master's foil," he explains, in his last chapter, "ought to be lighter than the 
scholar's, so that his arm may not be too easily tired by long successive lessons. 
The foil used by the scholar in the lesson must be heavier than that employed 
in the assault, and, moreover, should have no guard, in order that he may learn 
to parry with his fort, and never rely upon his guard to displace the adver- 
sary's blade ; it must also be shorter than the niaster's, so that he may better 
beware of time thrusts, and proceed with decision in his attacks." All this 
shows how the old Italian principles still lingered in the French schools, since 
the masters had to have recourse to such artifices in order to make their pupils 
put their theories in praftice and learn to avoid time hits. 

It is somewhat curious that after such academic teaching Liancour 
should have still thought of mentioning a universal parry, consisting in a 
circular sweep covering rapidly the four lines. 

He published his book very soon after starting independently on his 
career. His principles are those, he tells us, of his masrer, of whom he 
speaks with the utmost gratitude. 

Liancour pradlised in Paris during forty-six years after the publication 
of his book, differing in this respedt from other great masters, who generally 
only wrote towards the end of a busy life ; it is therefore no wonder that, 
having commenced under such auspices, he should have acquired that wide- 
spread reputation which made him one of the foremost figures in the annals 
of the ** Escrime Fran^aise." 

It was during the reign of Louis XIV. that the " Academie d'Armes" 
reached the summit of its importance. Having originated in an association 
of celebrated masters during the last years of Charles IX. 's reign, and been 

Fig. gi. — Thrusi in tierce, parried tierce. — A thrust in tecondc. — Liar 

Fig. 92. — Thrust in quintc parried "eercle." — A thrust in qiiarte.— Lia 


recognized, privileged, and dubbed royal by Henri III., Henri IV., and 
Louis XIII. — all three kings remarkable for their delight in swordsmanship 
— it obtained still more substantial proofs of royal favour in 1656 from 
Louis XIV., who conferred on this company, by letters patent, the absolute 
monopoly of the right to teach fencing in France. 

Thus far, however, its privileges were no greater than those eiyoyed by 
many older associations of the same kind, such as the corporations of Masters 
of Defence in Madrid and in London, the Marxbriider in Frankfor^ and 
similar associations in Italy during the sixteenth century. 

Fig. 93, — Thrust in tierce pirried quvte (outside). — Disengagemeat in quartc. — Liiacour. 

But the '* roi soleil" did more for his academy. Besides conferring on 
it a coat of arms,* he called the five-and-twenty masters into his presence 
and bade them nominate six of their body, to whom he granted letters of 
nobility to be enjoyed by them and their descendants, further promi^ng that 
the eldest master of the corporation should in future receive the same mark 

' "ChRmps d'azur k deux tpitt miiCB en Mutoir, lea poinces hautes, les pommeaux 
poigneei, croites d'or, accompagnei de quaire Aeun de ly», avec timbre au dessus de I'ecugson 


of favour on the demise of one of the ennobled six, provided he had professed 
the science of arms for at least twenty years. 

The corporation was at the same time reduced to twenty masters. 

No one was to be allowed to teach anywhere in the k'mgdom who had 
not been " prevot " under some master of the Academy in Paris. 

The degree of " Maistre en fait d'armes " was only conferred after six 
years of apprenticeship under some member of the corporation, and a public 
trial of skill with three other masters. 

When Strasburg was annexed by Louis XIV., the old Marxbriider school 
— once conduced by Joachim Meyer, and since then one of the most flourish- 
ing fencing grounds in Germany — was Frenchified as much as possible, and 
received the name of ^ Academic de Strasbourg." 

Brussels was also the seat of an academy which owed its origin to a 
flourishing school of fence established by the Spanish during their domination 
in the Low Countries, and the importance of which was kept up by periodical 
fencing tournaments conduced after the manner of the public examination 
for a fencing degree in Spain,^ or for the " master's prize " in London in the 
days of Elizabeth. The prizes contended for in these tournaments were 
richly decorated arms, solemnly awarded to the winners in the " Broodt 
Huys " in Brussels. 

The origin of the '^ Academic d' Armes du Languedoc," better known 
as the ^ Academic de Toulouse,'* was in all probability the same as that of 
the foregoing. That part of the country remained long under the influence 
of Spanish fashions, and most likely followed the example of Spanish schools 
of arms in the Roussillon, by holding periodical meetings of swordsmen. 
Annual competitions of the kind formed part of the " jeux floraux." 

A most celebrated family of masters, the Labats, taught at Toulouse 
from the end of the sixteenth century until the middle of the eighteenth. 

Notwithstanding the ambitious title of Academy assumed by these 
associations, there is no reason to believe that they ever possessed any special 
rights or privileges ; whatever influence they laid claim to was the result of 
the personal merits of their principal master. Indeed, in France during the 
eighteenth century many flourishing schools took the name of ^' Academie,'' 
much as nowadays institutions of the most diflferent types adopt similar 
ambitious names in England. 

Besides regular schools, there were various societies or ^' gildes," bound 
together, some by brotherly ties, others by charters or letters patent which 
limited their numbers and entitled them to honorific distinctions. 

The most celebrated of these, and one of the very few which survive to 
this day, for most royally privileged bodies were broken up during the French 

^ Sec page 32. 


Revolution, is the Confrcrie Royale et Chevaliere dc Saint-Michd at Ghent. 
It originated during the very first years of the seventeenth century in a private 
association of gentlemen and burgesses devoted to the pursuit of arms. In 
1603 the society received the distindion of the Golden Fleece, the collar 
being worn by their syndic on solemn occasions, in recognition, it seems, of 
valuable military services performed at the siege of Ostend. In 1613, under 
Albert and Isabella, it was recognized as royal and knighdy. From about 
that time it seems to have become very exclusive. The number of members 
was reduced to One hundred, and none but reigning personages, or the noblest 
names of the Low Countries, were admitted into the Confrcrie. 

Fig. 94. — Thruit and ptrry in quMie, with opposition of the left hand. — Libit. 

The old Draper's Hall at Ghent, which has been the seat of the society 
ever since 1 6 r i , contains the portraits of all the syndics who have presided 
over this association of fencers since the first days of its oustence. Under 
its auspices periodical fencing tournaments were held, the results of which 
were registered in a " Jivre d'or." 

The archives of the Confrcrie de Saint-Michel would no doubt have 
proved a mine of information on the subjeA of fencing ; ' they were unfor- 
tunately destroyed during the Revolution. This old institution is now a 
fencing club, of which the great Duke of Wellington was once a member. 

The art taught towards the end of the seventeenth century under the 
sanAion of the " Academies du Roy," had ceased to be that of the rapier, to 
become that of the small sword. The change in the use of the sword corre- 
sponds to that observable in its form. 

' They might, perhips, have settled the question u to whether the Spanish or German 
(i,t. lulian) Khool was most in Tavour in the Low Countries during the levenicenth century. 


As soon as n// cutting aAlon was discarded in sword-play, light triangular 
fluted blades were almost universally adopted.* 

From that time dates the origin of small-sword fencing. 


Fig, 9S- — Thrust «nd parry in tierce. — Labat. 

Rapier-play (that is, sword-play chiefly with the point, but not altogether 
to the exclusion of the cut) was, however, cultivated to a much later period 
in Spain, Italy, and in some German schools. 

Fig. 96. — Thrust in tierce parried by yielding the fatble. 

By thus divesting itself so early of most of the traditions connefted with 
the rapier, the French school took the lead in the art of wielding the weapon 
destined to become universally adopted in Europe. 

' Flat {i.e. cutting) blades are necessarily rather heavy, especially at the point ; indeed, a 
fair amount of weight about the centre of percussion is one of the requisites of a cutting 
weapon. But when the play i) strifUy limited to thrusting, lightness is the chief desideratum. 


The long traditions of the " Academie]" an institution unique of its 
kind, at least during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, necessarily 
favoured the development of a very perfect system. Benefited by a long 

by yielding ihe faible, with opposition of ihe 

series of masters, each imbued at the outset of his career with sound principles, 
it was but natural that constant improvement should take place. This im- 
provement in the art of elegantly despatching a neighbour to the next world 

Fig. 98. — Thrust and parry in 

consisted rather in the clearer definition and restriftion of particular move- 
ments, and the elimination of imperfetft or uncertain adions, than in the dis- 
covery of fresh modes of attack and defence. 

The tendency of good masters, in feft, was rather to make success 


depend on closeness and accuracy than on a variety of tricks or mere agility 
of body. These are still the principles of the French school. 

But the old notions, such as for instance the use of the left hand in 

Pig. 99. — Thrust in quarte under the wrist (quiote.)- 

parrying, which satisfied the instinAive tendency in fighting to counter and 
parry at the same time, or the advantages which volting, lowering the body, 
and traversing seem to give to the young and a<5tive, were too deeply 

Fig. I oo.~Thruit in low quarte (quinte), parried by the circle (tepiinie). — Labat. 

engrained on the minds of the fencing community to be altogether aban- 

Accordingly, we see that although all good teachers disapproved of such 
unacadcmic aftions, they were nevertheless obliged to admit the same, 
endeavouring, under protest, to systematize and improve them. 



A work published in the last years of the century by Le Sieur Labat/ 
one of that celebrated family of fencing-masters already mentioned in con- 
nexion with the Academic de Toulouse, may be noticed here as a good 
typical example in case. 

Fig. 1 oi . — Flanconnade. — Labat. 

On many points the art taught by Labat does not materially differ from 
the most generally received notions of modern fencing. 

His guard, his lunge, his methods of advancing and retiring, many of 
his bottes, parries in the four lines, simple feints, beats, bindings, and coupes 

Fig. 102. — Flanconnade parried by the opposition of the left hand. — Ls^bat. 

are, to any but hypercritical adepts, praftically the same as those now taught 
in our schools. 

But side by side with these sound principles of simplicity he likewise 
taught the old-fashioned parry with the left hand, to allow of countering, 

See Biblio.^ 1696. 

and the opposition of tlie same after a parry proper, in order to prevent the 
following thrust and to make room for the repost. 

He taught passing as welt as lunging on all attacks, and similarly 
countering low thrusts by volting, and high ones by lowering the body — 

Fig. 103. — A pus in quarts, parried in quarte. 

these tricks were remnants of the old rapier-play, but lost ail utility when 

the sword was worn so light as to be moved far more rapidly than the body. 

One of the reasons, presumably, why body movements of no advantage 

Fig. 104, — A " lime," taken on a paw by lowering the body. — Labat. 

in small-sword play were cultivated in those days, and even to the end of the 
eighteenth century, was that fencing was praAised not only with a view to 
duelling, but also against the contingency of a sudden encounter, when 
a gentleman's objeA was rather to disarm his adversary than to wound 
or kill. Such disarming, or seizing of the sword, was generally done by 


means of voltes or passes. As long as the sword remained part of a 
private gentleman's dress, the frequency of such promiscuous fencing kept up 
the necessity of tricks later on to be banished from all fencing schools. 

Fig. loj. — Time, lakea on a pau in seconde, by voicing. — I^baC. 

Volting, passing, &c., being thus thought admissible in some special 
cases, were naturally resorted to as alternatives to lunging and to parrying. 

Fig. 1 06. — Seizing the hill by turning the body gideways, on a 
pass in tierce. — Labat. "In the caae of a pass in tierce, you 
must parry with your feet firm and seize his guard, drawing iMck 
the right foot, and prexn ting your point." 

Labat does not advocate circular parries, " parades en contre d^ageant." 
It seems difficult to understand why so many French masters should have 
objeifled to that adion which has now become so typical of their play. 



On the other hand, he insists on the value of parries by yielding as opposed 
to binding — a mode of attack often resorted to against the straight guard 
which seems to have been much in favour, especially with flat blades. 

Fig. 107. — Disarming by a heavy parry. — Labat. 

A curious point to be noticed in Labat's tuition is the stress he lays on 
the advantage of accentuating feints with a slight movement of the foot,* 

Fig. 108. — Stepping forward with the left foot and 
seizing the blade, after displacing the adversary's point 
by a beat outward. — Labat. 

(similar to our "appel," or single attack). Six years later he published a 
small handbook of fencing ' for the use or his pupils. 

^ This habit has been preserved in some Italian schools^ where all offensive movements 
of the sword are accompanied by a stamp of the foot. 
' See Biblio., 1701. 


Labat's two works, although of unpretending dimensions, rank among 
the soundest treatises on praftical fencing. 

Indeed, from the days of Liancour and Labat till quite the latter part 
of the eighteenth century, all the books written* by the followers of the 
French school are more or less close imitations of their works. 

This was most palpably the case with De Brye's ^ **. L'Art de tirer des 
Armes " and " Le Maistre d'Armes " of Le Sicur Martin* of the Strasbourg 
Academy. The latter work contains a curious proof of the influence of the 
Paris Academy on matters of fence in the shape of an approbation of the pro- 
fessed and privileged " maistres en fait d'armes " of that corporation. 

A retired naval oflicer, Le Sieur Girard, brought out in 1730 the most 
splendid work on fencing, with the exception of Angelo's, that ever appeared 
since Thibaust's ponderous folio. 

The '^Nouveau traite de la perfection sur le fait des Armes, dedie au Roi,"* 
contains 116 copper plates representing the various attitudes of the French 
school and the way of successfully opposing them to the Italian, German, 
and Spanish guards ; the latter, by the way, is represented in a most ridicu- 
lous light, without however being professedly a caricature. The infatuation 
of the Spaniard for the true, i.e.y the old " destreza," and his well-known par- 
tiality for long blades, were considered sufficient grounds for asserting that he 
was in the habit of wearing swords some eight feet long. 

Being the work of an oflicer and not that of an academic *' maistre 
d'armes," Girard's treatise is devoted in great part to the praAical side of 
sword-play, and to the opposition of the small sword to all other fencing 
weapons, such as broadsword, pike, spontoon, &c. It even deals in an 
excursive manner with the use of the hand grenade, the musket, and the flail. 

Besides its historical value to the military antiquarian, Girard's work is 
important among fencing works as registering some innovations introduced 
into the theory of the small sword during the last forty years. 

It would seem that there were five distindl " bottes " taught in his days, 
namely, high and low quarte, tierce, seconde, and flanconnade. There were 
eight parries : — 

Quarte, for high inside. 

Tierce, for* high outside. 

** Cercle les ongles en dessus," for low inside (our half-circle or septime). 

" Cercle les ongles en dessous," for low outside (our seconde, but with 
the hand kept high). 

A fifth parry closing the low outside line, hand in supination (our 
oftave), which was called quinte. 

Prime, which he thus defines : " hand very high, nails turned down- 
wards, arm extended, point low." 

* Sec Biblio. « See Biblio. » Sec Biblio. 


He seems to have been the first to give its modem name to this parry. 

" Contre de rierce " and " centre de quarte," which are spoken of 
as excellent, showing that the French Academy had apparently overcome its 
prejudice to circular parries. 

It is true that the sword in fashion under the " Regence " was light 
enough to compare with our modern duelling sword. 

Opposition of the left hand was still as much in fashion as ?ver, not as 
a parry proper, but as a means of stopping a redoublement and keeping a clear 
way for the repost. Feints, which in the days of Liancour and Labat were 
generally simple, and never more than double, were then it seems often trebled. 

It is evident that fencing was rapidly approaching that state of com- 
pleteness and elegance which was to shine forth in the works of Danet and 


llRARD'S work is a mint of infonnation, inasmuch as it displays 
n in its elaborate plates the many sides of the art, and the possi- 
1 bility of successfully opposing the "queen of weapons" to all 
U others ; on the one hand its rough and ready use in an unexpeAcd 
6ght, and on the other the elegance and precision of small-sword 
play in a courteous bout, or in a duel betweeh gentlemen. 

Fig. 109. — Coming 

As a matter of faft, however, during the eighteenth century fencing in 
most places except the German universities was looked upon chiefiy as a 
refined accomplishment, and the schools of arms, in Paris especially, were as 
much schools of deportment as of fighting. The effeminate "petit maitre"left 
the academy after fencing a few bouts in his high-heeled shoes and cocked 
hat without having disturbed his wig or his ruffles much more than if he had 
paced a minuet. 



This change in the manners of the school seems to date from the early 
days of Louis XIV.'s reign, when, as we have seen, the salute imder the name 
of " reverence " is heard of for the first time. In every school of any standing 
a code of rules regulating the assault was enforced by custom. On such 
occasions an accomplished fencer was expeded to display the utmost regularity, 
avoid time hits, only repost as his adversary recovered, so as to avoid wounding 
his face, &c. — in faft, style had come to be far more considered than vigour. 

Full masks with wired openings for the eyes seem indeed to have been 
worn in some salle d'armes about the middle of this century, but they were 
generally proscribed in fashionable schools as unnecessary to good players, 
who were always supposed to place their hits on their adversary's breast. 

Fig. no. — The Salute, second and third motions. 

Such fencing must, in truth, have been most ** academical," though, at 
the same time, very artificial. 

The fear of wounding an adversary in the school, which would have 
disgraced a fencer for life, could not aft otherwise than detrimentally on his 
velocity of movement, however it might tend to keep up his form. How 
different a '* salle d'armes '* in Paris or London in those days from the old 
Italian schools of Queen Bess and Henri III., which men never left but covered 
with bruises, perchance minus an eye or a few teeth ! 

During the thirty years which separate the dates of Girard's work and 
that of the great Danet, there appeared the following books : * another 
edition of Le Perche's ** Exercice des Armes ; " the " Principes et quintessence 
des Armes " of G. Gordine, ** capitaine et maitre en fait d'armes " at 

* See Biblio. from 1740 to 1766. 


Liege, who attempted — and .failed — to remodel the theory of fencing ; 
" L'Eiscrime pratique " of Daniel O'Sullivan, of the Academic du Roi, 1 765, 
a most orthodox master, but whose work calls for no especial notice beyond 
the faft that he is the first author to give the modem names of" demi-cercle " 
and oftave to the two parries in low lines with the hand in supination. 

The Encyclopedic of Diderot and D'Alembert, in the volume which 
appeared in 1756, contained, however, already, under the head " Elscrime," 
a pretty complete " resume " of the principles followed by the Academy — the 
same, in faA, as those expounded by O'Sullivan. 

About this time the first Angelo (Malevolti) was direAing hts flourish- 
ing and aristocratic school in London and preparing that marvellous typo- 
graphic produdion, " L'EcoIe des Armes," the appearance of which so 

modernct " of Danet). 

sorely enraged the amour propre of the French maitres d'armes, and especially 
that of their syndic, GuiUaume E)anet, who was then thinking of bringing 
out his magnum opus, " L'Art des Armes." 

The choice made by the compilers of the Encyclopedic, who acknow- 
ledged that they could find no sounder treatise to reproduce in their volume 
of plates ( 1 765), and inserted undci* the head " Fencing " Angelo's work i» toto, 
merely reducing his plates, did not tend to allay the irritation. 

But whatever trouble the work, of " I'auteur de Londres " — for no other 
title will he vouchsafe to Angelo — caused Danet, his own book was destined 
to be the source of much greater tribulation. Its appearance created so much 
jealousy, and ultimately such undisguised ill-feeling among the members of 
the *' Compagnie," that Danet at last sent in his resignation of the office of 
syndic, which he had filled for so many years. 

It would seem that about that time especially, the Academy of Arms 
was not a very closely united fraternity, and that a great deal of petty squab- 
bling took place among its members, if a certain " Memoire pour le Sieur 
Mencssiez, Maitre en fait d'armes, etc., contre la Communaute des Maitres 
en fait d'armes," ' exposes the fafts such as they were. 

At all events, the animosity displayed by Danet's colleagues soon after 
the appearance of his book is not easily understood, as he merely exposed the 
incorretfbiess of some terms used as household words by all fencing-masters, 
advocating a general revision of the nomenclature as well as a more systematic 

Assuming that his position of eminence in his profession gave him a 

Fig. 111. — Carte parried carte outside. — First degree j " prime moderne 
destui l» armea " of Danet. 

certain right to dogmatize, he set forth an improved arrangement of bottcs 
and parades on the numerical system, according to which numerical names 
were made to tally with their natural order, so as to have really some meaning 
in relation to small-sword play. 

Before analyzing Danet's work, a short digression will be necessary. 
It must often seem strange to beginners that the thrusts and parries 
which are the first to be taught in a course of fencing should be dubbed 
fourth and third — such being the meaning of carte and tierce — whilst the one 
most rarely used should be called prime, or the first. 

The truth is, that notwithstanding Danet's solitary effort we still use 

' Paris, 1763. 


a nomenclature which was partly devised for, and only applicable to rapier- 
play, and partly at a later period for the small sword and the foil.' 

Remembering the unwieldy nature of the cut-and-thrust rapier and the 
imperfeiftion of its praftice, we know that the most natural attack was a high 
thrust in pronation, or a cut over the head. 

This being the case, the first guard of the majority of early masters * — 
prima, or prime, in fai5t — was one that could meet such an attack. 

This high guard or parry uncovered the body, and others were devised 
with different elevations of the hand. In two of these the hand was kept 

more or less in pronation, that being decidedly the strongest position for 
meeting attacks in the outside line — they were the second and third (op 
tierce). In the fourth, which was opposed to attacks on the inside, the hand 
was held in supination or in the medium position. 

* That such is the case will be obvious to anyone who gives their proper names to the 
only guards used ia cut-and-thrust play, such as that with sabres or sticks : Prime, seconde, 
tierce, and carte being approximately the guards used in the early fashion of rapier praftice, 
when the cut was much resorted to. 

To wit — Prime, covering the head and left side of body, high and low. 
Seconde, covering the lower part of the right side. 
Tierce, covering the upper part of the right side. 
Carte, covering the upper part of the left side. 
' Viggiani and some others specialized their first guird still further, considering it to be 
assumed when the hand was round the grip, ready to draw. 


Difierent masters taught a diflerent number of guards, but most of them 
recograzed four principal ones, as above described, qualifying some of them 
as high or low. Such is the origin of prime, seconde, tierce, and carte. 
The reason why seconde and tierce, as now understood, have exchanged their 
relative position, is this : when prime was given up as an engaging guard in 
favour of quarte, fencers only looked upon prime and seconde as parries, the 
first for a high, the second for a low line, distinguishing ultimately the latter 
as high or low seconde. High second 6nally took and retained the name of 
third or tierce. 

Fig, 114. — Tierce parried tierce. — Second degree; 
moderae " of Danec. 

If the reader will refer to Figs. 62-3-4, representing the six guards of 
Capo Ferro, he will find instances of these assertions : prima, seconda, and terza 
only differ by the altitude of the hand, and defend the outer line ; quarta 
defends the inner line ; quinta and sesta are only low terza and quarta. 

The early French masters classified seconde as seconde four le dessus (our 
tierce) and seconde pour le dessous (proper seconde) ; the name of tierce 
applied to the former only appears for the first time in Le Perche (1676). 

In Italy, however, and in all countries which followed the Italian method, 
quarta and terza always retained their relative meaning. 

Although there are only four fundamental lines to close, and conse- 
quently four ways essentially different of reaching the adversary in relation 
to his sword hand, there are, with a light weapon at least, many more ways 
of efFefting parries and delivering attacks. 

This was discovered early in the transition days of the rapier into ths 


smalt sword, and each master who wrote a system attempted to give each 
botte or parry a numerical name suited to what seemed its natural order. 
These varied considerably with different authors. 

For instance, the name of quinte,which was applied finally by La Boessiere 
(1818) to a low carte with the hand somewhat in pronation, was first given 
to what is now called septime (half-circle), and later on to what is now o^ve. 
Our half-circle, on the other hand, was first practised under the name of 
low carte, then under that of circle, and finally of septime. The parry in 
supination high outside only obtained its present name of sixte from La 
Boessiere, havmg previously been denominated as a qualified carte or tierce. 

This inadequacy of fencing terms and the classification based thereon 
inspired Danet with the ambition to found the " Art des Armes " on prin- 
ciples which, in his opinion, could not fail to appear obvious and acceptable 
to all, and which would consequently carry his name down to posterity as the 
father of the modem science of arms. 

Guard (see Fig. 109). 

Danet only admits one guard, similar to our engagement in carte, but 
with the weight of the body thrown back more on the left leg. He main- 
tMns, rightly, that it is applicable to all occasions, and can be made the 
starting point of all attacks and parries. 

Advancing and retiring he teaches on the same principles as are now 
followed. He also approves of a leap backward on both feet in cases whwe 
the adversary would have a chance of seizing the sword. 

DANET. 165 

Attacks. Danet considers that in fencing there are five degrees of 
height for the hand, and nine diiferent positions of the arm and wrist whilst 
delivering a botte. 

The degrees are determined, from above downwards, by the height of 
the hand at the moment that the thrust is delivered ; the position of the hand 
is the result of the combination of the height with the turn of the wrist, 
either in pronation or supination. 

Three bottes are delivered in the first d^ree, viz., prime, quartc, quarte 

One in the second, viz., tierce. 

Pig. 1 16. — Seconde parried eeconde. — Third degree ; 
of Dinet 

Two in the third, viz., seconde and quarte coupee (low carte, cut over 
the point). 

Two in the fourth, viz., low carte and flanconnade. 

One in the fifth, viz., quinte. 

With these premises Danet would call a high carte Prime des medernes, 
and carte outade Prime dessus Us armes des modernes ; prime he would call 
Prime ancienne. Similarly, tierce would become Seconde des modernes, seconde 
Tierce des modernes. Quarte and quinte would retain their old position. 

Thus it would appear that Danet advocated a very high hand, since he 
found three different ways of " pushing carte," which he called hb prime, 
quarte, and quinte.' 

' QuiDte is realJy nothing more than a low carte. 


He happily did not devise improved names for all his simple parries, 
of which, by the way, he professed to teach eighteen. Only those wUch 
could in a certain measure be looked upon as corresponding with the bottes 
that had been re-christened, were classified in the same manner. 
Thus he has the parries — 

Prime modeme (high carte) ; 

Prime moderne dessus les armes (carte out^de) ; 

Seconde modeme (tierce) ; 

Tierce moderne (seconde) ; 

Quarte moderne (carte). 

Also tierce basse ; demi-cercle ; oftave ; two parades de flanconnade — one 
by turning the hand from supination to pronation and extending the arm to 
the position of " tierce modeme," and the other by yielding ; " parade de 
pointe volante" — a' parry in carte (carte outside generally) token by cutting 
over ; three circular parries, viz., contre de quarte, contre de tierce, and 

Danet describes at length, and insists on the advantages of the exercise 
called in French schools " tirer au mur," consisting of a series of disengage- 
ments in all the lines performed with as much style as possible, which the 

' Hitherto such parries had been called contre -dfgage men C9. 



adversary either parried with equal precision and deliberation, or allowed to 
be placed on his plastron for the sake of praftice. 

On the subjedt of the ** coupe " (cutting over the point), Danet is of 
opinion that it is a dangerous mode of attack, often resulting in interchanged 
thrusts (coup fourres), and that it should be restri<5ted to the riposte. 

It seems that a freer use of the appel (usually called in England *' single 
attack ") was then made than now, and that it was accompanied by a close 
beat of the blade. 

Similarly, the name of double appel, as it was always accompanied by a 
double stamp of the foot (our " double attack "), was then given to what is 
now called '^ double engagement." 

Fig. 1 1 8. — Carte coupee parried odlave. — Third degree ; " quarte ancienne " 

of Danet. 

He also mentions the '^ coule " as an efieAive preliminary to a simple 
thrust or a feint. English masters called this adion ^ glizade.'' 

Curiously enough, the academical Danet admits in his tuition a parry 
which was merely an adaptation to the light small sword of that breaking 
sweep with the rapier advocated in olden days by Italian masters as a universal 
parry ** in extremis," and which he calls '* parade de cercle.*' Although 
admitting that it might tend to disorder the play, he explains the advantage 
it might offer to a man who felt himself hard pressed, as it checks all feints 
and half thrusts, and meets all possible ** bottes." 

" For the proper performance of the cercle," says the author, *' hold 
your hand in supination as high as your mouth, keeping your point low, and. 


by a swift movement of the wrist, cause your sword to describe the figure 
of a cone .... having met the adversary's sword, send your riposte in 

This circle was also performed in prime and in seconde in a similar 
manner, with a riposte in those lines. 

The last part of Danet's first volume is devoted to what he calls 
" decisive play," — that is to say, with sharps, — and deals with various 
approved methods of disarming, either by using the left hand, or by 
" crossing," binding, or whipping the adverse blade with the sword alone. 

He explains the nature of voltes, half voltes, and passes, which it seems 
were still praAised in many schools, but strongly disapproves of them all the 

Fig. 1 19. — Iiow carte parried low carte, — Founh degree ; " quarte roodeme" 
of Dane t. 

while, and deals in the same way with what was then called " dessous," — the 
" sbasso " of the Italians,' — time thrusts delivered on the adversary's attack 
or feint in a high line, by lowering the head and body. 

Danet's principles were, on the whole, those received at the Academic 
d'Armes, but his special hobby was the " modern" classification of the nine 
ways of delivering a thrust, and a belief in the existence of eighteen, no more 
nor less, " simple ' parries to the same. On one tenet, however, he disagreed 
with some of the dogmas. He could not see any material diflTerence between 
what masters called '* demi-contres " and '* centres " proper. 

This seems to have particularly aggravated Monsieur de la Boessiere, 

' See Fig. 2. 


one of the most eminent members of the Compagnie, especially celehrated as 
having been one of the masters of the Chevalier de Saint George, and as the 
inventor of wire masks.' 

La Boessiere published in the same year a pamphlet intituled : " Obser- 
vations sur Ic ' Traite de i'Art des Armes,' pour servir de defense a la verite 
des principcs enseignes par les Maitres d'armcs de Paris. Par M. * * * 
Maitre d' Armes des Academies du Roy, au nom de sa Compagnie," in which 
he rated Danet in bitter terms, sneered at his classification, his " simple" 
parries, and especially his ignorance of the nicety of the " demi-contre." 

This distindion of " demi-contre," as intermediate between simple and 

Fig. no. — Plinconiude, with opposition of the left hand.— 
Pourih degree of Danei. 

circular parries, is, it must be said, mere hair-^Iitting, and it is not much 
considered now. 

Nothing abashed by the recepdon of his first volume, Danet' in the 
course of the next year brought out the second, with a refutation of the 
criticisms which, having been made in the name of the Company, he was 
bound to take notice ot In this volume he sets forth his arguments at full 
length, basing them, however, on a very incomplete sketch of the history 
of fencing, and considers foreign swordsmanship as compared with the 
French, much, it is needless to add, to the disadvantage of the former. 

' These masks which he tried to bring in ftihion about 1750 were similtr in shape to the 
oU English pattern of fencing miika, but were tied on the head with strings. This kind of 
mask is seen is some of RowUndson's drawings. 


Danet, however, was really too sound a master, and too well knowiiy 
to sufier long from his difference with the Company of which he had been 

Indeed, ten years later we hear of him as (Ure&or of the ** Ecole 

Fig. 122, — Parade de pointe volanic. 

Royale d'Armes." On the occasion of his appointment he published a 
second edition of his work, in which is to be found an" approbation " of the 
masters of that school, highly commending Danet's theories, and declaring 
them acceptable to the Academy ; " wherefore," it goes on to say, " we 

cuinot better express our gratitude than by offering this bur approbation, 
without heeding the ill-founded criticisms which were passed on them.*" 

Among the signatures affixed to that document occurs that of 
Teillagory, celebrated in the annals of fencing as the first master of Angelo, 
and of those celebrated figures of Angelo's old school, the Chevalier 
(or Chevaliere) d'Eon, the Marechal deSaxe, and the Chevalier dc St. George, 
that " admirable Crichton " of the eighteenth century. 

With Danet we conclude our sketchy analysis of French works on 
fencing. His "modern" nomenclature was not adopted; it went against 
too old associations, but his principles remained those of the Academie until 
the last days of its existence, and indeed they may be looked upon as the foun- 
dation on which, during this Centary, La Bbessiere fils, La&ugere, Jean- 
Louis, Gomard, Grisier, Cordelois, and so many others wove in all the 
niceties of the present French school of foil fencing. 

One of Danets most celebrated pupils was J. de Saint-Martin, who, 
.during the last few years of the eighteenth century, established an aristocratic 
and very celebrated school in Vienna, where he taught, during the first 
quarter of this century, the science of arms as approved of by the old French 

The famous " Compagnie des Maitres en fait d'Armes des Academies du 
Roi en la Vitle et Faubourg de Paris," after a flourishing existence of nearly 
two hundred years, was dissolved during the Revolution. Augustin Rous- 
seau, its last syndic, whose father and grandfather had taught Louis XV, 
and Louis XIV., was guillotined in '93, probably for the mere fadt that he 
had been, as the aA of accusation termed it, " maitre d'armes des enfants de 

Coat granted to the Aead'tmit d'Armes dt Paris by Louis XIV. 
in i6;6, registered en Parltmcnt, Sept. 3, 1664. The usual stgn 
over the entrance of a fencing school was an arm brandishing a 


BEFORE continuing our sketch of the history of the fencing art 
jj and of the charafteristics of fencing schools in this country from 
Q the days of Saviolo to those of the Angclos, it may be well to 
3| notice some points of interest touching the swordsmanship of 
■' Spain, Italy, and Germany during the same period, and thus 
dismiss the subjeft. 

Fencing in Spain during the Seventeenth and the 
Eighteenth Centuries. 

The verdadera destreza~~the true art of fence, at least in the opinion 
of the Spaniards — had found its complete exposition in the ponderous works 
of Don Luis Pacheco de Narvaez, that typical figure of %)anish solemnity, 
the acknowledged arbiter on all questions of imfwrt to a true cavalier. 
During the greater part of the seventeenth century the literature of the sword 
consisted praAically of his writings or of others supporting or illustrating his 
principles. Indeed, as long as there existed a purely Spanish system of 
swordsmanship, it was based on the lines so carefully traced in the "Libro 
de las Grandezas de la Espada," and reiterated with only unimportant 
variations in Narvaez 's numerous later works. His authority on the subjeft 
was assured by his position as master to the " King of all Spains and of the 
greater portion of the world." * 

Indeed, Carranza and Narvaez always remained the fountain-head of 
knowledge, and with reference to their successors retained the same position 
as Giganti and Capo Ferro in Italy at the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, and Liancour and Labat in France at the end of it. 

Knowing the broad principles of the " verdadera destreza," which are 

1 See in B blio. tlie various dcriicaiions. 


explained in the chapters relating to Carranza and to Thibaust, the reader 
will find the magnificently sonorous titles of the twenty-eight different 
treatises on the philosophy of arms and their dexterous use detailed in the 
Bibliography quite sufficient to complete his impression of this school. 

The faft that a great number of these were written in defence of Narvaez's 
doArines would tend to show that there must have been many attempts to 
introduce foreign notions of swordsmanship — attempts which were, however, 
strenuously opposed by the masters of the Corporation of which Narvaez was 
apparently the head. As long as this association Tasted — and it seems to 
have only begun to lose its influence about the last years of the seventeenth 
century — ^the unaltered tenets of the old cut-and-thrust rapier-play, with its 
passes and complicated preliminary operations, were alone recognized and 
cultivated. The works of Ettenhard y Abarca,' one of the most popular 
masters of the reign of Carlos II., may be referred to as an example in point, 
being typical of all Spanish treatises of that period, prefacing their instrudion 
with an account of principles of geometry " indispensable to whosoever would 
wield his sword with true dexterity ; " settling once for all the angles at which 
blades should be crossed in all possible adions — ^^ oposicion de angulos y de 
movimientos ;" minutely defining paces and passes, and encompassing all their 
figures within intricate diagrams of circles in all planes, of chords, and of 

As a consequence of this infatuation for obsolete principles, the sword 
underwent less change in size and shape than in any other country. As late 
as the middle of the eighteenth century the Espada most in favour among 
Spaniards was praAically the rapier of the early seventeenth century, with its 
cutting edges, its cup guard, and its long quillons. 

The eighteenth century, however, seems, to have produced very few 
masters of note, and, in the rare works ^ that we are able to meet with, 
we no longer find that uncompromising assertion of the indisputable perfeAion 
of their peculiar and old-fashioned notions. 

The swaggering and pugnacious ^* diestros," "matamoros," " valentones," 
** guapos " — ^those piAuresque brawlers so vividly depided by Quevedo 
VillegaS) Velez de Guevara and his imitator Lesage, and all the picaresque 
writers of the seventeenth century — in other words, the ragged but haughty 
adventurers so well personified in Don Cesar de Bazan, whose very existence 
depended on their consummate skill in the management of their prodigious 
rapiers, are types which likewise seem to have become extinft during the 

^ See Biblio., 1675, and 1697. These two books are to be found in the Brit. Mus. 

* There are only five Spanish works on fencing at present known as belonging to that 
age, and they make a very poor display as compared with the pompous productions of the 
prcv'ous century. 


eighteenth century.^ At that time, also, the wearing of the sword, which 
hitherto every Spaniard had assumed as a right since the days of Charles V., 
was a privilege which fashion as well as oft-repeated police ordinances began 
to restriA to gentlemen only, — although, as every independent Spaniard is 
" hidalgo '* in his own opinion, this restridion had a less sweeping efFeA in 
that country than in any other. 

Among the commoner devotees of the art of fence superiority began to 
be sought in the management of the dagger, when the monopoly of the 
sword was assumed by tneir betters. 

To this we may ascribe the origin of the art of wielding the navaja — 
the long Spanish knife — which, when pradtised with the capa, was based on 
the principles of ancient sword -and-cloak play, and when alone, on those of 
the single rapier according to Carranza's teaching. In the first instance, the 
left arm, protected by two turns of the cloak, was used for parrying, the left 
foot when on guard being kept forward — the dagger was held in the right 
hand, thumb flat on the blade. In the second case, as there could be but 
little parrying except by seizing the wrist, true dexterity consisted in 
tempting the adversary into making some movement which might afford an 
opportxmity for a time hit. On every occasion the stab was delivered by a 

Much decision was required for this play, and perhaps even more real love 
of fighting than in the mathematical and philosophical rapier fence. Seville 
was reputed a great resort of proficients in the art of the dagger fight. 

These principles seem to have been handed down without much altera- 
tion to modern amateurs of the " cuchillo." 

As the prestige of the ancient Corporation gradually waned, foreign 
teachers of fencing obtained a little influence in Spain, but, in presence of 
the rooted infatuation for the national style, they were reduced to forming a 
mixed system of Italian or French and Spanish schools, with however, as 
might be expefted, poor results and few followers. Accordingly, we find 
that all foreign authors who have noticed the Spanish play in their treatises, 
such as Liancour, Girard, Danet, and Angelo, invariably represent the 
Spaniard as fencing in accordance with the principles laid down by Narvaez. 
Fig. 123, which it is needless to remark is ludicrously exaggerated, is in all 
essentials similar to illustrations of the Spanish guard to be found in the 
above-mentioned authors, and tallies closely with G. Silver's description of 
the Spanish fight with the rapier written in 1599. 

Towards the middle of the eighteenth century appeared at last a book 
treating of the foil and the sabre as belonging to different plays. This shows 

^ Also in most relations of travels through Spain of the seventeenth century. Sec A. dc 
Sommerdyck (*' Voyage d'Espagne/' 1665) and Madame d'Aulnoy ("Relation du Voyage 
d*Espagne," iSzg), passim. 



that the rapier had begun to lose the charafter of a cut-and-thrust implement 
and to assimilate itselrto the small sword — the Espadin. 

The author, D. Juan Nicolas Perinat,^ fencing-master to the Academy 
of Guardias Marinas in Cadiz, prided himself on being the first who adopted 
that new art. His treatise seems to be the last book of any importance on 
the subjeft of feni:e published in the Peninsula during that century. It may 
be said to have foreshadowed the gradual adoption of French and Italian, 
and the extinAion of the genuine Spanish schools, which may be considered 
as completely effedied now. In the absence of any book of importance 
dating from the last years of the eighteenth century, it is difficult to say 
whether the following account, given by Angelo in his later edition (1787), of 
the Spanish system of /encing, tellied with fads in his own days, or whether he 

Fig. 123. — ^The Spanish Guard, according to Danet» " Art des Armes/' 1766. 

took the notion out of Girard's work, which he seems indeed to have 
imitated on many points : — 

" The Spaniards have in fencing a different method to all other nations; 
they are fond often to give a cut on the head, and immediately after deliver 
a thrust between the eyes and the throat. Their guard is almost straight, 
their longe very small ; when they come in distance they bend the right 
knee and straighten the left, and carry the body forward ; when they retire 
they bend the left knee and straighten the right ; they throw the body back 
well, in a straight line with that of the antagonist, and parry with the left 
hand, or slip the right foot behind the left. 

** Their swords are near five feet long from hilt to point, and cut with 
both edges ; the shell is very large, and behind it is crossed with a small bar, 
which comes out about two inches on each side ; they make use of this to 
wrench the sword out of the adversary's hand, by binding or crossing his 

* See Biblio., 1758. 


blade with it, especially when they^ fight against a long sword ; but it would 
be very difficult for them to execute this against a short sword. Their 
ordinary guard is with their wrist in tierce, and the point in a line with the 
face. They make appels or attacks of the foot, and also half thrusts to the 
face, keep their bodies back, and form a circle with the point of their swords 
to the left, and straightening their arm, they advance their body to give the 
blow on the head, and recover instantly to their guard, quite straight, with 
their point in a direft line to their adversary's face." 

If this account was correA in 1787, short as ft is it shows that the 
*^ destreza " never altered its principles, but to its last days remained essen- 
tially what Narvaez had made it. 

Fencing in Italy during the Seventeenth and the 

Eighteenth Centuries. 

There can be little doubt that during the eighteenth century at least, the 
masters of the " Academies du Roy " placed the French school in a position 
of indisputable supremacy, a faA plainly displayed by the invasion of French 
teachers of fence in England, in Grermany, as far as Russia^ and even, though 
on rare occasions, in Italy and Spain. 

The Italians do not seem to have been able to transform their old system 
of swordsmanship sufficiently to make it quite suitable to short and light 
blades such as were used in France and in England. They modified some 
details of the old rapier fence taught by their redoubtable masters of the 
seventeenth century, but retained the fundamental principles of the stesso 
tempo — the single time, the parry and counter attack combined — that had 
been the very soul and life of a fight with lengthy and ponderous rapiers, 
but became more and more uncertain and dangerous as greater rapidity in 
the management of the point was possible. It may be safely asserted that 
from the day when the sword grew light enough to admit of double feints 
and aftive wrist play, the ^^ single time " principle^ applied to all occasions, 
became decidedly vicious. The complication that could be introduced in 
the attack necessitated a greater variety of parries than could possibly be 
combined with a repost in " stesso tempo." 

The art of fence, which had been in the previous age one of the great 
specialities of the Italians, seems to have been comparatively negleAed during 
the eighteenth century, if the small number of treatises kno;wn to exist may 
be considered a criterion — five against thirty-one belonging to the seven- 
teenth century. In any case, it is evident they did not keep up their old 

To enter into details concerning the works of Calarone, A. di Marco, 



Mangano, Lovino, and Micheli* would be merely to weary the reader. 
Suffice it to say that during the eighteenth century Italian fencing assumed 
the charafter so vividly set forth in the treatise "of the two friends 
Rosaroll and Grisetti," the last which figures for Italy in the bibliographical 
list. Although it contains some very old-fashioned notions of swordsman- 
ship, it was long looked upon by the majority of Italian masters, and is 
even now by some Neapolitans, as the standard work on sword-play. 

The usual guard in favour among the Italians was very much more like 
that shown in Fig. i than Danet's representation (see Fig. 1 24). Danet was 
not as careful in his dealings with foreign plays as with his own; he seems 
to have contented himself with imitating this plate from one of Girard's. 

Fig. 124. — The Italian Guard opposed to the French, according 
to Danet. To suit this play the Italian should be represented with 
a cap-hilted sword as in Fig. i. 

Although the movements executed by the sword itself were com- 
paratively simple, especially among good fencers, aftive body movements 
played a great part in their system. They made much use of attacks on 
the march, accentuating all their feints either with a short step or a call 
of the foot. 

The principle of the single time was not then absolutely adhered to, but 
time thrusts, especially on the adversary's feints, were as much a feature of 
the Italian school as the well-defined parry and riposte of the French. When 
properly executed, especially on a feint, they were by no means so faulty or 
uncertain as it pleased French masters to assert, for as the Italians kept 
their sword arm invariably straight, very close parries, fort on faible, were, 
without ceasing to menace him with the point, sufficient to remove the 
adversary's blade from the body. The shape of their sword also, that of a 
reduced cup-hilted rapier, was eminently favourable to this sort of play. 

* See Biblio., Italy, 1714 to 1798. 

A A 


The whole art of delivering time thrusts with certainty depends on the powef 
of keeping the " opposition " in whatever line it is menaced by the adversary, 
and this praftice of " keeping the line " as they called it was carefully culti- 
vated as quite the ruling principle of fencing. 

In presence of this recognized system of timing, no very elongated 
lunge was much resorted to, but rather a series of short attacks in various 
lines, attempting to gain on the adversary so as to oblige him to make his 
parries wider, or to force an entrance by binding his blade. The left hand 
was kept level with the breast, in readiness to stop those time thrusts which 
were delivered on a feint, but when lunging it was generally thrown back in 
line with the sword arm for the sake of balance. Time thrusts delivered on 
the adversary's attack, by lowering the body (when the attack was in a high 
line), by volting (when it came in an inside line), or by passing to the left 
(when it came outside), were still looked upon as quite academical. These 
adlions were called respedively sbasso^^ inquarto^ and intagliata. 

The Italians used four guards, and although the most common engage- 
merit was carte, they also engaged in the three other lines, and as there were 
only four single parries in common use, guards and parries were in all cases 
stridly interchangeable terms. 

As the arm was kept fully extended,^ whether in a position of guard, 
defence, or attack, coming to a parry in a given line was simply to change 
the guard so as to cover that line. 

These parries or guards were : — 

For the high inside line, prima (with the hand in pronation, on a level 
with chin, point. menacing the adversary's body) and quarta (see Fig. i) ; for 
the high outside line, terza (same as quarta, but hand in pronation) ; for the 
low inside line, mezzo cerchio (which would be shown by Fig. 1 24 were the 
Italian's arm extended from the shoulder, and his hand a little lower) ; for 
the low outside line, seconda (hand in pronation on a level with the waist, 
point menacing the adversary's hip). 

All passages from an inside to an outside line were very simple and very 
few. The Italians always adhered to the principles of their old rapier-play, 
and considered that agility and vigour, and discernment in seizing a time, 
were more useful qualities in earnest sword-play than the most scientific 

It seems somewhat curious that Angelo, who was of Italian origin, 
should have been so excessively incorre<5t in his description of the Italian 
guard, which is here quoted : — 

' See Fig. 2. 

* Excepting, of course, the case of parries by yielding, or cedute, when the arm must be 
bent — being re-extended, however, immediately on the completion of the parry. 


" The Italian guard is commonly very low ; they bend equally both 
knees ; carry the body between both legs ; they keep the wrist and point of 
the sword low, and have a con trailed arm ; they keep the left hand at the 
breast, to parry with it, and straightway return the thrust. 

" Though this guard is natural to them, yet they vary every moment, to 
perplex their adversaries, in keeping a high wrist and point to the line of 
the shoulder ; in keeping a high wrist and a very low point ; and making 
large gesticulations of the body, and turning round their antagonist, some- 
times to the right and sometimes to the left, or by an immediate advance of 
the left foot to the right ; and they thrust straight thrusts at random, or 
make passes and voltes. They have much dependence on their agility, and 
the parade of the left hand : for that reason, when two Italians fight together 
they often are both hit together, which is called a counter thrust : this 
happens seldom with two good swordsmen, because they know how to find 
the blade by a counter disengage, or by the circle, and because they have a 
quick return. 

*' And yet, nevertheless, I am persuaded that the above Italian method 
would puzzle a good swordsman, if he did not take the necessary precau- 
tions," &c. 

The modern system of Neapolitan fencing is based on those old principles 
of the " spada lunga " play, which have been roughly sketched in this book, 
but it eschews all unnecessary body movements, as well as parries with the 
left hand. It is, on the whole, simpler than the French, and although less 
brilliant for foil play, is perhaps better suited for the sword than the latter. 
But the frequent and excessive turning of the wrist which is the aftion para- 
mount in a play where the arm is constantly extended, is only praftical with 
swords or foils mounted in the old-fashioned rapier style — that is, with quillons 
and a cup guard, with or without pas d'ane, so as to allow of closing one or 
two fingers and the thumb round the base of the blade. This form of the 
sword is not now much used out of Italy, although it is sometimes to be 
found in German and Spanish schools. 

Fencing in Germany during the Seventeenth and the 

Eighteenth Centuries. 

It was stated in the chapter on early German fencing schools that the 
praftice of the rapier was popularized in Germany by the society of " Feder- 


fechter," and that by the end of the sixteenth century the " Feder " or 
" Rappier " was adopted in all schools of arms. 

As the fashion came from Italy, not only its principles but many of the 
terms conneAed therewith were naturally enough closely copied from those 
in favour among the best known masters of that country, even as we have 
seen Sainft Didier coining uncouth words in his attempt to assimilate the 
Italian manner, and the Elizabethan devotee of the rapier discoursing in an 
outlandish jargon — Italian grafted on Spanish — on the ^^stocado " and ^^ punto 
reverso^^ " putting a stock," or " counterchecking a montanto." 

On points of fashion imitators are naturally somewhat behind-hand at 
all times, and although Meyer in his first edition ( 1 570) embodied all the 
best methods known in his days, his system was already obsolete when the 
second appeared at Augsburg in 16 10; and in 16 12 Jacob Sutor had not 
progressed one step beyond the methods of Marozzo, Agocchie, Grassi, and 
Viggiani, which were then considered quite antiquated in Italy by the 
followers of the Bolognese school. 

In the same year, however, Conrad von Einsidell, fencing-master in 
Jena, " presented to all lovers of the praiseworthy art of fence " a German 
reproduftion of Villamont's translation of Cavalcabo's work.^ Five years 
later the Elzevirs published at Leyden the first German translation of 
Fabris' " Schermo," many other translations or editions of which were issued 
from various German presses throughout the seventeenth century and as 
late as the first quarter of the eighteenth. 

In 1 6 19 a translation into French and German of the great Venetian 
master, Nicoletto Giganti, was published at Frankfort by J. von Zetter, — 
presumably a MarxbrudeTy — a second edition of which appeared in 1622. 

In 1620 Hans Wilhelm SchofFer von Dietz, fencing-master at Mar- 
burg, collefted in a huge volume, illustrated by 670 copperplates, the teach- 
ing of all the most celebrated Italian masters of his days, but especially of 
Salvator Fabris. 

Three editions of a similar work, combining the writings of Fabris and 
Capo Ferro, but of smaller dimensions, were issued between 1610 and 1630 
by Sebastian Heussler, " Kriegsmann und Freyfechter von Niirnberg." 

Since all these Italian treatises ran through several editions, and as most 
other authors, such as Hundt, Koppen, and Garzonius, did not offer any 
marked diflference in their doftrines, it may be safely asserted that the rapier 
fence in favour throughout Germany during the seventeenth century was 
purely that of the Italian school, founded on the teaching of the three sturdy 
swordsmen, Fabris, Giganti, and Capo Ferro. For cut-and-thrust play — 
" auf Stoss und Hieb " — such as was so much in favour at the universities till 

* See Biblio., German, 161 2 ; French, 1609 ; also p. 106. 


the beginning of this century, it remained the foundation of the German 

Towards the last third of the century, however, some German masters, 
amongst others Daniel Lange, Fechtmeister at Heidelberg, and G. Paschen, 
who seems to have professed in Frankfort, in Halle, and in Leipzig, where 
he also published several editions of his work, adopted some of the French 
terms and attitudes ; but, notwithstanding the renown of the French, and the 
comparative lack of great masters in Italy during the eighteenth century, the 
play of the latter seems to have been more congenial to the Germans till 
quite modern times. 

A great change in the charafter of the schools themselves — the " Fccht- 
boden " — took place soon after the sixteenth century ; they were more and 
more abandoned by the citizens, and ended by being almost exclusively 
patronized by students and officers, the old fighting associations of the bur- 
gesses having gradually become converted into ** Schutzen Kompagnien." 

The " Schwerdt " and other heavy weapons so much in favour among 
the Teutons during the sixteenth century were fast becoming obsolete,^ 
whilst, on the other hand, the rapier was considered an exclusively noble arm, 
only to be worn, and consequently only cultivated by the " high born." 

Members of all universities, however, professors and students — the 
"nobility of knowledge" — assumed the right to wear — and use too — the noble 
rapier, a right which they preserved by prescription, notwithstanding the 
well-known prohibition in all the statutes of universities founded during the 
sixteenth century. 

The Thirty Years' War, which threw the country* into such hopeless 
disorder, had an especially demoralizing effcdl on these bodies. The amount 
of bloodshed caused among the pugnacious youth of Germany by the prepos- 
terous habit of wearing the sword instead of the gown in academic centres was 
hardly less than that brought about by the incomprehensible duelling mania 
which raged in France from the days of Henri II. to those of Louis XIV. 

At the close of the war another attempt was made to restridt the 
privilege of wearing arms, but without success ; the habit was too deeply 
engrained, and it was persisted in, in spite of all opposition, by students as 
well as men of "higher quality," until the end of the eighteenth century. 

Although the Marxbruder and Federfechter did not preserve their 
monopoly, most of the university fencing schools were direfted by some of 
their members ; and, as students were more often attrafted by the renown of 
the " Fechtmeister " than by that of the other learned professors y it gradually 

* Oddly enough, however, a treatise on the " Schwerdt^ and the " Dusack** appeared in 
Wurzburg during the latter part of the seventeenth century, at a time when these weapons 
were prafticaliy forgotten. See Biblio., Verolinus, 1699. 


came to pass that the best schools were always to be found at the most 
popular of these institutions. 

Kahn ^ is the principal authority on the subjeA of these university fence 
schools, and an account of what he calls the " Kreusslerische Schule " is given 
at some length in his works. 

About the year 1 6 1 8 there came to Frankfort-on-the-Main the son of 
a Nassau schoolmaster, who, ** preferring the noble blade to the ferule," 
apprenticed himself to the " Marxbriider," and was eventually admitted to 
the confraternity. On becoming a privileged master he went to Jena, 
where during sixty years he initiated many generations of students into the 
mysteries of the "Feder." He died in 1673. This was the great 
Kreussler^ the founder of that race of famous fencing-masters whose names 
remained household words in most German universities for so long a time. 

His portrait, together with that of the captain of the " Marxbriider- 
shaft " who proclaimed him master, is still to be seen in the library of the 
Jena University, and represents him dressed in black, with a broad white 
collar, provided with his professional sword and gauntlet. His right 
shoulder, and indeed his whole right side, is depifted as more powerfully 
developed than his left, and his right eye, especially, as bright as a falcon's,' 
indications of his exclusive devotion to right-hand fencing. 

Kahn considered Kreussler as the founder of the art of the " Feder." It 
would have been more accurate to say that he was one of the first ** Marx- 
briider " who almost exclusively cultivated and raised to a high pitch of 
praftical perfeftion in Germany the art of Cavalcabo, Fabris, and Giganti. 

Be it as it may, it appears that it was from Jena that this mode of 
fencing first spread to the other universities. 

There are many examples of a family of fencing-masters retaining a 
high position in their profession for many generations. We have seen the 
Bolognese Cavalcabos teach in Italy and France for nearly a century; 
the Le Perches in Paris and the Labats in Toulouse keep up the prestige 
of their name from father to son for even a longer period ; we know that 
the family of Rousseaux taught the art of arms to the last three kings of 
the Bourbon dynasty before the Revolution, and that the Angelos kept the 
most popular school in London for more than a century ; but none of these 
can compare with the Kreusslers, who furnished some twenty well-known 
fence-masters to various universities between the first quarter of the seven- 
teenth century till the end of the eighteenth. 

Wilhelm Kreussler, the founder of this numerous family, had twelve 
children, most of whom became masters of note. 

His eldest, Gottfried, first went to Leipzig, where he must have met 

' Sec Biblio., 1739. * Ott, " System der Fechtkunst," 1853. 


with Triegler, Paschen, and J. Hynitzchen, all literary masters, whose works 
figure in the Bibliography ; the last was an ardent admirer of Fabris, a 
fresh translation of whose writings he brought out in 1677.' 

On his father's death Gottfried took the diredlion of the old " fighting 
ground" at Jena. He, like his father, made fencing- masters of his numerous 
sons, most of whom adopted the ancestral profession ; among these, the 
eldest, Johann Wilhelm, also eventually succeeded to his father's post at 
Jena, whilst another, Heinrich, acquired especial celebrity in various parts 
of Germany as a redoubtable champion. He is credited with the reputation 
of having been instrumental in fixing the principles of the true German 
school, which, about the middle of the eighteenth century, began to be 
looked upon as the best in Europe for cut-and-thrust play. 

Fig. 125. — The German Guard oppoaed to ihe French. — Danet. The 
Germans used more generally a cup-hil[«d sword similar to the Italian. 

The portraits of Gottfried, Johann, and Heinrich Kreusslcr are also 
extant in the University Library' at Jena. Many of their descendants — 
one of whom, by the way, was a " Doftor Juris," but returned late in life to 
the traditional occupation of his family — professed till the beginning of the 
century at Leipzig, Giessen, and Jena. 

Although the Germans never originated much in rapier-play, having 
adopted, first, the Italian, and, later on, a mixture of Italian and French 
styles, they were highly considered as praftical swordsmen both in France 
and Italy. During the eighteenth century it was even deemed a necessary 

' See Bibtia * Oit, " System der Fechtkunst," 1 853. 


part of a French swordsman's practice to be able to oppose his fight to that 
of the German. Naturally, the French masters of that period expounded, 
in the most plausible manner, infallible rules for overcoming the Teuton 
sword in hand ; but from all accounts the ** Kreusslerische " fencers who came 
to Paris — it was part of their system to study foreign swordsmanship — 
generally proved themselves formidable opponents. Indeed, it would seem 
as if, from the middle of the eighteenth century, fencing was quite the study 
of paramount importance at the university. At Jena, Halle, Leipzig, 
Heidelberg, and, later on, Goettingen, Helmstadt, and Giessen, duels were 
so common and so dangerous — the usual play being what we would call 
spadroon or cut-and- thrust fencing — that the most peaceable student was 
never sure of his life for a single day. 

As to their small-sword play, it was a slight modification of the Italian, 
as the following description, taken from Angelo's "Ecole des Armes," 
printed in 1763, will sufficiently show : — 

" In the position of the German guard, the wrist is commonly turned 
in tierce, the wrist and arm in a line with the shoulder, the point at the 
adversary's waist, the right hip extremely reversed from the line, the body 
forward, the right knee bent, and the left exceedingly straight. The Germans 
seek the sword always in prime or seconde, and often thrust in that position 
with a drawn-in arm. They keep their left hand to the breast, with an 
intent to parry with it, and the moment they draw their sword they endeavour 
to beat fiercely with the edge of their sword on their antagonist's blade, with 
an intent to disarm them if possible." 

Besides this truly German small-sword and the national spadroon or 
Cut-and-thrust play, regular academical fencing as it was praftised in Paris 
was likewise taught in a few German schools, generally, however, for the 
special use of the small Courts, where everything French was curiously 

Among most noteworthy masters whose names have come down to us 
chiefly through their treatises, the following may be noted : at Niirnberg, 
Johann Andreas Schmidt and Alexander Doyle (a Germanized Irishman), at 
Ingoldstadt, J. J. de Beaupre (a Frenchman, who taught a mixture of Italian 
and French play), and the great Friedrich Kahn, who was, as Ott says, ** an 
ornament, first of the Goettingen, then of the Helmstadt universities." 

Curiously enough the Kreusslers do not seem to have published any 
books,^ but their successors at Jena, the numerous family of Roux, are the 
authors of several important works published towards the end of the eigh- 
teenth century. 

About this time there was a marked diminution in the love of duelling, 

^ Unless we ascribe to a Kreussler the anonymous work signed B. K. published in Jena 
in 1798. See Biblio. 


and consequently of fencing, one of the signs of which showed itself in a 
general tendency to abandon the old cut-and-thrust rapier — the thrust being 
considered too dangerous to be employed in students' encounters — and to 
replace it almost universally by the " Hiebcoment/' the play of which was 
very similar to the backswording in favour among us about the same period. 

The students of Jena, however, as well as those of Halle and Erlangen, 
insisted on retaining the privilege of being killed or seriously wounded, 
instead of merely scarified, in their duels, and refused to be parted from their 
old-fashioned rapier till about the third decade oF this century. 

As the German university schools lost their importance, the modern 
French foil play, and the " contre pointe," gradually, but surely, came into 
favour among German officers and private gentlemen, whilst the system of 
fencing followed by th& students became so specialized as to have lost most of 
the charafteristics of what can be called fencing — namely, the art of defending 
oneself and offending the adversary in the simplest and surest manner. 

The students' Schlaeger play is a peculiar one, requiring the use of a 
very peculiar sword ; most natural fencing adlions are prohibited, and the 
conditions so regulated that the precautions which are most elementary, as 
well as of paramount importance, in natural fighting, can be entirely negleded, 
the fencer's sole attention being devoted to the one objeA of lacerating his 
opponent's face or the top of his head, and of course preventing him, as much 
as possible, from doing the same. 

If this is not fencing, it is, however, a very severe and difficult exercise^ 
and a duel with Schlaegers, although very rarely dangerous, must be con- 
sidered a very fair test of pluck and endurance. 

A description of the main features of a modern German students' duel, 
although outside the general scope of this book, may be found of some interest. 

The Schlaeger is a basket-hilted sword with a long pointlesSy flat, and 
rather flexible rapier blade, which, when used for duelling purposes, is 
sharpened for a length of seven or eight inches from the point on the right 
edge, and for about two inches on the false. The hilt is much larger than 
is usual in close-guarded swords, in order to allow a very free aftion of the 
wrist. The grip is made very thin near the hilt and somewhat thick at the 
pummel end, and is provided with a loop, generally of leather, wherein the 
forefinger can be inserted, so that the Schlaeger may be held in a very easy, 
and, at the same time, very secure manner — this being the great desideratum 
in tiic flipping play of which its praftice solely consists. In some universities 
a pair of diminutive quillons provided with pas d'dnes are in favour, instead 
or the loop, for the purpose of securing a firm grip. 

The adversaries fall on guard within close measure, holding their 

B B 


Schlaegers in a position of very high primCy with the arm fully extended and 
the point on a level with the mouth. 

The face and head being the only objeftive of the attack, a very elaborate 
system of armouring and padding is resorted to in order to proteft the wrist, 
arm, and shoulders, and, in short, all parts of the body liable to receive by 
accident cuts aimed at the face, and the defence of which does not form part 
of this curious system of fencing. The eyes are prote<fted by iron ** goggles," 
the branches of which likewise afford some proteftion to the temples. In 
some cases even, especially in duels between freshmen — ^** Fiichse" — ^the 
head is further ptoteded by a cap. 

The play is very simple, but so unnatural that it requires much vigour, 
long praAice, and the development of particular muscles of the forearm, for 
perfeftion. It consists of flipping cuts delivered from the wrist — not with 
the centre of percussion, but with the extreme part of the blade, which alone 
is sharpened — and direfted to either side or the adversary's face, and to 
the top, or even the back of his head. At each blow the point describes 
nearly the whole circumference of a circle. 

From the high prime guard cuts can be delivered in the four lines : 
in carte, tierce, low carte, and seconde (Quart, Terz, Tiefquart, Sekonde), the 
last two cuts passing under the adversary's point. 

Parries are performed by raising the hand as high and as much forward 
as possible, still keeping the point very low, to meet attacks in high lines, and 
by shifting the opposition, to meet cuts attempted, under the point or other- 
wise, in low lines. The chief difficulty in parrying being, not merely to 
meet the opposite sword in time, but so to meet it as to prevent its point 
flipping over. Very little feinting is resorted to, but cuts are rapidly ex- 
changed, success depending on the vigour and rapidity with which they can 
be returned. 

It is needless to remark that encounters " in pads," and with such re- 
striftions, can hardly be called duels in the ordinary acceptance of the word, 
but should rather be looked upon as matches in a particular game. As a 
matter of faft, German students' duels are not necessarily the result of private 
quarrels, but are as often as not arranged every week by the presidents of 
the various ** fighting corps " of the University. The most usual order of 
such duels is either the exchange of a given number of cuts, say 24, or to 
fight during a given number of minutes, usually 14, A duel under these 
conditions is as much a trial of endurance as of skill, for no wounds on either 
side, excepting such as may be deemed really dangerous, are allowed to put 
a stop to the fight. 



N England during the seventeenth century rapier fencing was an 
accomplishment only cultivated by gentlemen, and to all appear- 
9| ances chiefly by those who brought back Cavalier manners 
M from Spain and Italy. Anglicized Italian or Spanish or even 
™ French terms are of frequent occurrence in the literature of the 
first third of this century, but it seems difhcult to find any positive intima- 
tion that schools of fence of the kind which enjoyed such popularity in 
Elizabethan days under Saviolo and other foreigners ever became regular 
institutions. It is probable that the bitter and persistent opposition of " the 
profitable members in the commonwealth," the English " Maisters of 
Defence," succeeded in preventing their permanent intrusion in this country. 
Although we hear a great deal of the back and the " sheering " sword — 
the short sword '* of perfetft length " so much extolled by Silver on behalf of 
English fencing — very little is ever said concerning the rapier except in con- 
nexion with foreign topics. Gentlemen must either have studied the art 
abroad, or have had private masters, usually foreigners or old soldiers, 
attached to their households, for there can be no doubt that whatever may 
have been the popular feeling against the " bird spits," ' the rapier remained 
the only arm in favour among the upper classes. 

People of lesser " quality " had to deal with the common fencing- 
masters, who, when we first hear of them again as a body, seem to have 
gone back to that very inferior condition of gladiators which kept them in 
such bad repute during the Middle Ages. 

Whenever we hear of fencing-masters in the seventeenth century, they 
are also spoken of as prize fighters who made of their stage fights an 

' In this respeft there waa a marked difference of fashion between Northern and 
Southern countries, for in Italy, Spain, and even France, no matter what class he belonged 
to, no man with any pretensions to smartness would be Kcn abroad without a ponentoui 
rapier by hi* side. 


advertisement for their trade as well as a profitable occupation, even as the 
pugilists of the next century depended chiefly on success in the prize ring 
for a livelihood. They taught the use of a great number of weapons, 
according to the tradition of the old masters of the Tudor period, but gene- 
rally devoted their energies to the back sword, which, since the buckler had 
become obsolete in England,* was quite recognized as the national arm. It 
was, moreover, very well suited to the popular entertainment of stage fights, 
as the very gory and dreadful-looking wounds it inflifted satisfied the expec- 
tations of the audience, without usually being very dangerous, at least in 
comparison with those caused by the foyning rapier. The falchion or 
cutlass was also in great vogue, and its praAice was apparently similar to that 
of the German ** Diisack." 

However much the elegance of the thrusting play might please the 
Cavalier, it never suited the bulk of the nation : the charafter of English 
pugnacity being rather a delight in hard knocks than a thirst for the adver- 
sary's life. 

Englishmen had always loved the exhausting sword-and-buckler fight, 
and when the latter went out of fashion, the endurance and " bottom " dis- 
played in a hot backsword contest was much more congenial to their feelings 
than the most cunningly conduced rapier bout. 

Under the auspices of the Corporation of Masters of Defence public 
trials of skill in the use of " verie manie weapons " were of frequent occur- 
rence, and in many instances patronized by the presence of royalty, for we 
hear that **BluflF King Hal," Philip and Mary, and even the *' virgin 
Queen" herself, assisted at, and showed great interest in such entertainments. 

The challenge issued by the Silvers to Saviolo,* and which the latter 
wisely declined, shows that on some occasions more serious encounters than 
the ordinary fencing tournaments were also held in public. Even after the 
Corporation had crumbled away — it is never heard of after 1593 — these 
exhibitions of hard knocks, which must have been very popular indeed, 
evidentiy remained an institution. 

Some masters of greater "martial scorn" than the rest started the habit 
of substituting " sharps " for " blunts," and took to displaying their gladia- 
torial prowess in theatres and other enclosures where they could gather 
entrance money. These stage fights were evidentiy the origin of modem 
prize fights. 

It seems, however, difficult to discover any account of an aftual prize 
fight of this kind previous to the Restoration, and they probably only became 
very common after the Parliamentary wars. 

^ It remained in favour among the Scotch to a much later period. 
' Sec page 24. 


But that they were recognized entertainments and savouring in no way of 
novelty in 1662 is amply shown by the following entry in Mr. Pepys's Diary : — 

" June I. The Duke having been a-hunting to-day, and so lately come 
home and gone to bed, we could not see him, and we walked away. And I 
with Sir J. Minnes to the Strand May-pole : and there light out of his 
coach, and walked to the New Theatre, which, since the King's players are 
gone to the Royal one, is this day begun to be employed by the fencers to 
play prizes at. And here I come and saw the first prize I ever saw in my 
life ; and it was between one Mathews, who did beat at all weapons, and one 
Westwicke, who was soundly cut several times both in the head and legs, 
that he was all over blood ; and other deadly blows they did give and take in 
very good earnest, till Westwicke was in a sad pickle. They fought at eight 
weapons, three boutes at each weapon. This being upon a private quarrel, 
they did it in good earnest ; and I felt one of the swords, and found it to be 
very little, if at all blunter on the edge than the common swords are. 
Strange to see what a deal of money is flung to them both upon the Stage 
between every bout. This day I hear at Court of the great plot which was 
lately discovered in Ireland, made among the Presbyters and others, design- 
ing to cry up the Covenant and to secure Dublin Castle," &c., &c. 

The following graphic description was published ten years later in " An 
Account of a Journey to the British Isles," * by a Monsieur Josevin de 
Rocheford. It is quoted at full length as it depifts very circumstantially the 
manner in which stage fights were heralded and conduced. 

" We went to see the ^ Bergiardin,' * where combats are fought by all 
sorts of animals, and sometimes men, as we once saw. Commonly, when any 
fencing-masters are desirous of showing their courage and great skill, they issue 
mutual challenges, and before they engage parade the town with drums and 
trumpets sounding, to inform the public there is a challenge between two brave 
masters of the science of defence, and that the battle will be fought on such 
a day. 

" We went to see such a combat, which was performed on a stage in the 
middle of an amphitheatre, when, on the flourish of trumpets and the beats 
of drums, the combatants entered, stripped to their shirts. On a signal from 
the drum, they drew their swords and immediately began to fight, skirmish- 
ing a long time without wounds. They were both very skilful and courageous. 
The tallest had the advantage over the smallest, for, according to the English 
fashion of fencing, they endeavoured rather to cut than to thrust in the French 
manner, so that by his height he had the advantage of being able to strike his 
antagonist on the head, against which the little one was on his guard. He had 
in his turn one advantage over the tall man in being able to give him the Jamac 

^ Paris, 1672. * Bear Gardens in Southwark. 


stroke, by cutting him on the right ham, which he left in a manner quite un- 
guarded. So that, all things considered, they were equally matched. Neverthe- 
less, the tall one struck the little one on the wrist, which he almost cut off, but 
this did not prevent him from continuing the fight, after he had been dressed, 
and taken a glass or two of wine to give him cour^,when he took ample ven- 
geance for his wound; for a little afterwards, making a feint at the ham, the tall 
man stooping in order to parry it, laid his whole head open, when the little one 
gave him a stroke which took off a slice of his head and almost all his ear. 
For my part, I think there is a barbarity and inhumanity in permitting men 
to kill each other for diversion. The surgeons immediately dressed them 
and bound up their wounds ; which being done, they renewed the combat, and 
both being sensible of their respeAive disadvantages, they therefore were a 
long time without receiving or giving a wound, which was the cause that the 
little one, failing to parry so exaftly, oeing tired with his long battle, received 
another stroke on his wounded wrist, which, dividing the sinews, he remained 
vanquished, and the tall conqueror received the applause of the speftators« 
For my part, I should have had more pleasure in seeing the battle of the 
bears and dogs which was fought on the next day in the same theatre.*' 

Although we hear of little else than backsword play among the 
''gladiating" fencing-masters, the thrusting French play in all its integrity 
was the only one, from all accounts, cultivated by gentlemen. 

The most important treatises extant in the English language on the 
swordsmanship of that period are the various works of Sir William Hope. 

This celebrated swordsman was a son of Sir John Hope of Hope- 
toun by his second marriage with Lady Mary Keith, eldest daughter of 
William, seventh Earl Marischal ; his eldest brother was the father of the 
first Earl of Hopetoun. Born in 1660, he was knighted between 1687 
and 1692,* and created a baronet in 1698. He was first designed of 
Grantoun, afterwards of Kirkliston, and in 1705 he purchased the land of 
Balcomie, in Fifeshire. He served some time in the army, and was for 
many years (previous to 1706) Deputy Governor of the Castle of Edin- 
burgh. The complete list of his works on sword-play is given in the 
Bibliography, but he also wrote some treatises on the farriers* art, one of 
which, " Le Parfait Mareschal, or the Compleat Farrier," he translated from 
the French of Le Sieur de SoUeysell.* He died in Edinburgh, 1724, in his 
sixty-fourth year, of a fever caused by having overheated himself in dancing 
at an assembly. Dancing, fencing, and swordsmanship were his most 
ardent pursuits. 

* Sec Biblio., 1687, " Scots' Fencing Master,** by W. H., Gentleman ; and, 1692, " Compleat 
Fencing Master," by Sir W. Hope, Kt. 
^ Edinburgh, 1696, folio. 


The baronetcy became extinft with his grandson. Sir W. Hope, third 
baronet, who died in the service of the East India Company in 1763. 

Nearly every one of Sir William Hope's books was published both 
in Edinburgh and in London, but at different periods, a fadt somewhat con- 
fusing to the bibliographer. There can be no doubt, however, that his first 
produdtion was the " Scots' Fencing Master," which he published in Edin- 
burgh in his twenty-seventh year (1687). 

It is ** dedicated to the young nobility and gentry of the kingdom of 
Scotland," and prefaced by an epistle to the reader in commendation of this 
noble art. 

In this encomium the author draws a graphic comparison between 
" Artists " and " Ignorants," with the objeft of encouraging his young 
countrymen to cultivate an art of which they were apparently very ignorant, 
notwithstanding its " being of so great use to mankind," and urges them to 
** enquire after fencing-masters, of whom we have very able ones, so that 
we need not be beholden to our neighbouring nations for the perfefting of 
our youth." 

** Although," says Hope, " it be not taught with so good a grace as 
abroad, yet, I say, if a man should be forced to make use of Sharps, our 
Scots-play is farr before any I ever saw abroad, as for security ; and the 
reason why I think so is, because all French play runneth upon Falsifying 
(feinting) and taking of time, which appeareth to the eyes of the Spedatours 
to be a farr neatter and gentiler way of playing than ours ; but no man that 
understands what secure fencing is will ever call this kind of play sure play, 
because when a man maketh use of such kind of play, he can never so 
secure himself but that his adversary may contre-temps him every thrust. 

" Now, our Scots-play is quite another thing, for it runneth all upon 
binding and securing of your adversaries sword before that you offer to 
thrust, which maketh both your thrust sure and your Adversarie incapable of 
giving you a contre-temps." 

This Scots' play is explained in 162 pages of small print, and with 
the help of twelve amazingly naives and grotesque plates, by a dialogue 
between master and scholar, the quaintness of which is generally most 

** The Art of Defence and Pur suit y with the Small Sword. Described 
in a Dialogue between a Scholar and a Master of that Art. 

" Scholar. Good morrow. Sir ; I am glad that I have once found you 
at home, for I have called several times for you, and till now could never 
have the good fortune to meet you. 


" Master. I am sorry. Sir, that you should have been at that trouble; 
but now, seeing we have met, what service have you to command me 
with ? 

" Scholar. Sir, I hear you profess the Art of Fencing, and the great love 
and desire I have of that noble art made me desirous to be acquainted with 
you, that I might be instrufted in it. 

'* Master. Sir, seeing your enquiring for me is for that end, I shall 
with all diligence and plainness explain and demonstrate to you the prin- 
cipal grounds requisite to be exaftly understood by any who intend either 
to profess or understand this useful art of defending oneself with the 
single rapier from their Enemy. 

" Scholar. I pray you do so, and you shall be well rewarded for your 

" Master. Sir, I do not in the least doubt that. 

" Scholar. Which is the first thing, then, you will shew me ? 

" Master. The first thing I intend to shew you is the division of the 

** Scholar. I pray you let me hear it. 

^^ Master. A Rapier, then, is generally divided into two parts, viz., 
the Hilt and the Blade," &c., &c. 

The sword represented in the plates, and shown in especial detail in 
the first, is a transition rapier of the Flamberg type,^ with a quadrangular 
blade, and a hilt in all respeAs, except the absent knuckle-bow, similar to 
the modern Italian duelling sword. Hope, however, follows the French 
method of seizing the grip, and consequently recommends that the finger 
should not be passed through the ** pas d'anc.'* 

Among the various technical terms which the master next proceeds to 
explain, we need only notice the following : — 

" In quart " and " in terce," to denominate the positions of pronation 
and supination respeftively. 

** Within the sword " and " without the sword," to indicate inside and 
outside lines. 

" Breaking the measure ; " and its " contrary : " ** gathering up the left 
foot" for the "redoubling of thrusts." 

The words, to " elonge," to " respost ;" the expressions, " caveating," 
" falsifying," and *' slipping," generally used instead of disengaging, feinting, 
and deceiving. 

" Beating " and " battery," ** the diflference between the two being that 
battery is the striking with the edge and feeble of your sword upon the edge 
and feeble of your adversarie, whereas beating is done with the fort of your 

* See group the Third, plate III., especially the last two specimens. 


sword on the feeble of your adversaries, and therefore secureth his sword 
a great deal better than battery doth." 

" Contretemps," used to express, not a time thrust, but a double thrust 
or exchanged hits (the "coup fourre " of the4^rench). 

" Quarting upon the streight line," or " ecarting," to indicate the pre- 
caution of sustaining the body and keeping the head well back, to avoid a 
** contretemps " in the face. 

"Quarting ^the streight line,*' or " quarting " simply, wljich corre- 
sponds to the French volte (from the old Italian incartatUy or modern in 
quarto); the word ^^volting" itself being restrifted to "the leaping by 
your adversary's left side, quite out of his measure." 

The guards taught by Hope, and of which he speaks as being com- 
monly practised in all schools, are, but for their names, those of the French 
masters of that period. 

" Scholar. How many guards are there ? 

" Master. There are generally but two guards, viz., the Quart-guard 
and the Terce-guard, but they are subdivided into the ^art with the 
streight pointy and the ^art with the sloping point near to the ground. The 
Terce is likewise subdivided into the Terce with the point higher than the 
hilt and Terce with the point lower than the hilt.^ 

'* There is likewise another kind of guard, but I have not a proper 
name to it, in which you are to hold your sword with both your hands."* 

With all these guards the scholar is recommended "to keep a thin 
body " and turn his right toes well out, which points were much insisted 
on by French masters.* Hope, however, is of opinion that it would be an 
improvement to turn out the left foot in the same manner, and to bend the 
knees much more than do the French. 

The " parades " are five in number, four of which are represented by 
the four above-mentioned guards, the fifth being " Terce with the point 
sloping towards the left side of your adversaries thigh " (prime). 

" Scholar. You have no other parades than those you have named, 
have you ? 

" Master. Yes, I have yet another, which, although it ends always in 
one of the four former parades, yet there is a great diflFerence betwixt the 
doing of them and the doing of it, and I can give no other name to this 
parade but the counter- caveating parade." 

This is the circular parry applicable to every line which was then 
called in France '* parade en contre degageant," and in Italy ** contra- 
cavazione." (Caveating evidently was derived from the cavare and cavazione 
of the old Anglo-Italian teachers.) 

' " Tierce pour Ic dessus, tierce pour le dessous " of the French. 
* See p. 141. ^ See Fig. 89. 

c c 


The author speaks enthusiastically of this counter-cavation, '* as it 
crosseth and confoundeth all feints ; yea, not only feints, but in a manner all 
lessons^ which can be played with the small sword, for that certainly it is by 
farr the best and safest parade, and therefore I would advise you, when you 
can make use of it, never (unless it be very seldom) to make use of another." 
This was, it will be observed, singularly at variance with the principle of the 
old French school. Hope, however, explains the mechanism of the lunge, 
and the methods of closing and increasing the measure, on precisely the 
same system as Liancour. He has a piduresque simile, when insisting on 
the necessity of having the arm fully extended before the foot begins to 
move, " a thrust that is right given," says he, " may be xrompared to the 
shot of a gun, for he that is wounded with the shot receiveth his wound before 
he hears the report, so he that is wounded with the sword receiveth his wound 
before he hears his adversary's right foot touch the ground." 

The attacks are delivered by caveating in all the lines, by falsifying 
singly or doubly, by battery or by binding. Hope's most favourite 
** lessons " are : — 

Feinf at the face and thrust in any line uncovered by the parry, and its 
converse, the low feint and thrust in some high line. Both these feints can 
be doubled so as to "slip " certain parries. 

Battery y a plain beat-and-lunge, or beat-and-disengage, in every line. 

Volt-coupe^ which is described as a feint in a given line, followed by 
a thrust in the most direftly opposite one, such as feint high carte and thrust 
low tierce. The meaning of the word is, however, incomprehensible, 
but perhaps it was a phonetical approach to the ** botte coupee " of the 

Flancanade and Under-counteVy the latter, he explains, " is almost played 
like Flancanade^ only whereas in it (that is, in flanconnade), after you have 
overlapped your adversaries sword, in this you must go quite under his 
sword, turning your hand in Terce, and bring up his sword, giving him the 
thrust, as you give it when you play the Single Feint at the head.*' 

He likewise recommends binding in many other cases, and for such 
fencers who perversely keep their point low, in a position unfavourable to 
bindings, he describes a method of forcibly lifting it with the sword, which 
he calls " gathering up your adversarie's blade." 

Beatingy which is to be done on an attack or feint of the adversary, by 
disengaging, beating and lunging, with the precaution of keeping a strong 

Hope also describes the pass as an alternative to the lunge, but applies 
it chiefly to various ways of " enclosing " and " commanding " (closing in, 

' This word is often applied to a definite attack, or "botte.** 


and seizing the adversary's sword), which are in all essentials similar to those 
we have described under Labat.^ 

All these modes of attack have their *' contraries^** either parades and 
resports, according to the French school, or ** slips " and counter-thrusts by 
quarting or volting, according to the Italian. 

The left hand is kept in readiness to oppose " contretemps," and every 
feint is to be accentuated by a well-marked stamp of the foot, in order to 
give them a greater appearance of dired attack, although Hope admits that 
this usual trick of the school could have but little efFeft on a " true Artist/* 

A chapter of the '* Scots' Fencing Master " is devoted to the art of 
fighting on horseback, with pistols and the shearing sword, and recom- 
mends that the latter, after the pistols have been discharged, should be 
brought to a "lowterce" guard, that the horseman should endeavour, to 
prevent his enemy closing with him on his left or near side, and also that 
none but very simple feints should ever be attempted. 

It is explained in a succeeding chapter how the small sword can be made 
to overpower either the broad or the shearing swords, after the first blow has 
been parried or " slipped," by judicious timing and " enclosing ; " a guard, 
•* with your sword quite cross before your body and your hand in terce," is 
recommended for the purpose. 

A year later Hope published a very small oftavo, which he called " The 
Swordman's Vade-mecum," and dedicated "to all true. Artists, or such as 
have a real respeft for and take delight in the art of fencing." 

In the preface he explains that in his first book, the " Scots* Fencing 
Master," he " gave only a bare description of the rules, without any of the 
reasons subjoined to them," and "as it was designed for the use both of 
Artists and Ignorants, so this Abstrad is only for Artists, there being only 
contained in it the very marrow and quintessence of fencing." 

This quintessence consists of eight golden rules, dependent on an equally 
golden trinity of qualities ; their explanation and exemplification form the 
bulk of the book, but it will be quite sufiScient to enunciate them in their 
original quaintness. 

"Rule I. 

" Whatever you do, let it always (if possible) be done Calmly, and without 
Passion, and Precipitation, but still with all Vigour, and Briskness imaginable, 
your Judgement not failing to Direft, Order and Govern you as to both. 

' See Figs. 106-7-8. 


" Rule II. 

" With Calmness, Vigour, and Judgement, put your self into as close, 
thinn, and convenient a Guard, as the Agility of your Body will permit, 
your Heels being still as near other as possible. 

" Rule III. 

" With Calmness, Vigour, and Judgement, make use (for your Defence) 
of the most Excellent, and not to be parrallelled Contre-Caveating Parrade, 
and that generally upon the outside of your Sword, your left hand always 
assisting you if in any wayes doubtful of the Parrade ; and that you may 
with the more certainty defend your self, look always to your Adversary's 

" Rule IIII. 

** With Calmness, Vigour, and Judgement, endeavour to OfFend your 
Adversary, by binding or securing his Sword, and that for the most part also 
upon the outside, giving in a single plain thrust upon the back of it, or if 
you please make a Feint upon the back of your binding, your left Hand 
making always a kind of Parrade, at the giving in of every Thrust, the better 
to save you from a Contre-temps ; and by no means rest upon your Thrust, 
but instantly after the performing of it, whether you hitt or not, recover 
to your Defensive Posture again : This is the true play for a Man's Life : 
but if you be so far Master of your Adversary, and so merciful to him that 
you desire not his Life, but only to disable him : Then 

"Rule V. 

" With Calmness, Vigour, and Judgement, Thrust at his Sword-hand, 
Wrest, or Arm, or at his nearest advanced Thigh, the wounding of any of 
which, once, or twice, will seldom fail to disable him. 

"Rule VI. 

'* If your Adversary be Hasty, Passionate, and pursue Furiously, and 
Irregularly, then with Calmness, Vigour, and Judgement, Cross, Stop, and 
Oppose his Fury ; but upon the contrary, if Careless, Lax, Slow, or perhaps 
Timerous, then also Calmly, Vigourously, and with Judgement pursue him. 


"Rule VII. 

With Calmness, Vigour, and Judgement, prevent your Receiving one 
Thrust for the giving another, called (after that dangerous Word, the Artists 
Bugbear) a Contre-temps, and for that end, the using your left Hand for a 
Defence upon your Pursute, as I have before told you, will not be found amiss. 

"Rule VIII. 

" Now to put a Close to my Rules, let them all be done within distance as 
much as possible, and with little or no Elonge, or stretch of any part of the 
Body, save only that of the Wrest & Arm (called a Spring) and as I desired 
you to begin, so I expeft you will continue and end all your Aftions with that 
most Excellent Fundamental, and Golden Rule of Three, to wit. Calmness 
• • • • Vigour. . . . and Judgement. Andthen, no doubt, you will procure by 
the foregoing Rules, advantage proportionable to the Art you have acquired 
to put them in praftice. 

" But that my Reduftion may yet better answer my Design (which was 
to be short and compendious) and be more easily kept in your Memory, I 
have brought it into a narrower Compass, by, as it were. Epitomizing it as 

/ A Closs Guard. 
jj ^The Contre-caveating 

Calmness J ^.^-^-^ S Parrade. 

f Binding, 
" With { Vigour and 

Judgement \ ^'"'^^^v.^^ f A Contre-temps. 

Prevents Being without Distance. 
(^ Resting upon a Thrust." 

This curious little tome is prefaced by a most flattering letter to the 
author from William Machrie, " Fencing Master, Judge and Arbitrator of 
all who make any publick trial of Skill in this noble art of the sword within 
the Kingdom of Scotland," and is concluded by a few " remarks and obser- 
vations " on fencing and the schools in general, refuting the assertion that a 
determined " Ignorant " had as much chance of success in an earnest en- 
counter as an ** Artist," a comforting theory which seems to have been then 
very popular, as the author refers to it so often in his works. 

" And the Reason why an Artist may receive one Thrust for another, from 


an Ignorant, is that when People Assault it is commonly with Blunts, and when 
an Ignorant y who undervalueth the j/rt of the Sword, and trusteth all to his 
own Forwardness, is desired by an Artist to shew his Natural play,he very well 
considering that he can receive no prejudice by his being hitt with a blunt 
Fleurety Rusheth and Rambleth still forewards (let him receive never so many 
Thrusts) until he either hitteth the Artist with one of his Rambling Thrusts, 
or other wayes cometh so closs, that the Artist must enclose with him, and he 
thinketh, if he hath given the Artist but one Thrust (although he himself 
should receive three or four in the time they are playing) that he hath carried 
the Day, and quite run down the Art of Fencing ; whereas, if they were either 
to play with Real Sharps, or with FUurets having a quarter of an Inch of a 
point beyond the button, I make not the least doubt but their Rambling would 
be a little slower, and they would take better notice to what they did, it being 
Natural even with the most Foreward and Boldest of Men, to endeavour to 
save themselves by putting a little stop to their Pursute, when they perceive a 
Sharp point opposite to, and ready to wound, them, and without which stop 
or pause, they are sensible they might run the Risk, if not of losing their 
Life, yet at least of being hurt and so smarting for their rash Forwardness : 
so this is the Reason why Artists may receive one Thrust for another from 
Ignorants, to wit, Their Assaulting commonly with Blunts ; Therefore, to pre- 
vent this inconveniency, if I were to play with an Ignorant for a Wager, I 
would play alwayes with pointed Fleurets, and then in God's Name, let him 
Ramble his Belly full ; For in that case I would know a way to come at 
him which might perhaps cause him repent his Forwardness." 

This suggestion might be carried out with advantage in our own days, 
for the benefit of those uncourteous fencers who make a praftice of not 
acknowledging hits. 

In 1692, "The Scots' Fencing Master" was republished in London 
under the less local title of " The Compleat Fencing Master," and two years 
later the ** Vade-Mecum " was likewise reproduced in that city. In both 
these second editions the author's name appears as Sir William Hope, Kt. 

When Sir William Hope published his magnum opus, the " New Short 
and Easy Method of Fencing, or the Art of the Broad and Small-Sword, 
reftified and compendiz'd," &c., he had evidently studied his favourite pursuit 
in France, or at least carefully digested the leading French works of the 
period, if we may judge by his more correA quotation of French terms, and the 
introduction in his nomenclature of the names of guards and " bottes " 
praftised by Le Perche and Liancour. 

He seems likewise to have devoted much of his time to the broadsword, 
as he endeavours to create what he deems an entirely new system, applicable 
indifferently to both small and broad sword. 

He begins by giving an abstraft of the art of the small sword, which is 


praAically the same as that contained in his first work, save for the corretft 
technical French terms he employs. He advocates, however, the constant 
use of a hanging guard in seconde suitable to the back sword, shearing 
sword, and small sword. 

This guard, which had universal advantages in the author's estimation, 
is remarkably like that in favour among the Germans at the same period. 
As it was never much used with the small sword, appertMning in faft to the 
spadroon, it need not here be noticed any further. 

In one of the last chapters Sir William Hope gives a full description 
and insists on the great utility of the praftice of " Parieing and Thrusting a 
Plain Thrust," which is praiSically the same as the French " titer au mur." ' 
Indeed, the author remarks that it " hath been a very old but bad custom in 
the fencing schools to fix in a manner the Person who is to Pane, with his 
back, or at least his left shoulder, near to a wall, so that he may not absolutely 
break his adversaries measure by the too much bending back of his body." 
Instead of which it seems that it was then the habit to cause " the defender 
to pitch himself to his guard or posture of defence with all possible ease, 
and then to chalk or otherwise mark the 
floor or pavement at the toe of his right 
and at the side of his hinder foot, that 
so he may not, without being observed, 
move them out of their place in parieing, 
and thereby, in place of fairly parieing, 
cunningly evite the thrust." 

It is in this book that we find for the 
first time any mention of the " Society of 
Sword-men in Scotland," which it seems 
had been in existence during the last fifteen 

"In the Year 1692," says Hope,"seve- 
ral Noblemen and Gentlemen, whereof I 
was one, entered by Contraft intoa Society 
for the greater Encouragement of this Art, 
wherein, besides the Regulations, laid 
down by us for our more ordinary Meet- 
ings, wherein we are to take Trial of, and pig. , i6._Badge of the " Society of 
admit intotheSocietysuch HonorablePer- Sword-men " in Scotland, 

sons, as should apply to us to be admitted 

into it ; We had also our more solemn Anniversary or yearly Meetings appointed, 
upon which days we were to wear a certain Badge, which amongst other T>e- 


vices y carried the designation of the person to whom it belonged, as well as that 
of the Society ; which we named The Society of Swordsmen in Scotland. But 
this Society being only Eredted by ourselves as private Persons, we were of 
Opinion, That it would be of far greater Esteem, and serve better the Ends for 
which we chiefly designed it (and which I shall immediately give an Account 
of) if we could procure the Civil San<9ion to it, and have it Erefted into a 
Royal Society of Swordsmen : For which End, about four Years thereafter, we 
made Application to the then Secretary of State, who assured us, that he 
would use his Endeavours with King William (of Glorious Memory) to 
grant us a Signator under the Great Seal for it ; but the Parliament being 
about that time to meet, which was in Anno 1 696, to which the Earl of 
TuUibardin (now Duke of Athol) was Commissioner; we judged that it 
would be still more Honorable for our Society, and give it greater 
Weight and Force, if we could procure an A6t of Parliament for it in our 

" Accordingly upon the 16 of September in the above mentioned year, 
there was a Draught of an Aft oflfered by one of our Society, who was then 
a Member of Parliament : which after ^rj/ Reading was remitted to the then 
Committee for Contraverted Ele£lionSy and upon the 28 th of the same Month 
approved of by them ; But the Parliament being very shortly thereafter 
Adjournedy it was not Reported that Session ; and so from that time it lay 
over till this last Session of the Duke of Queensberry's Parliament, Anno 
1707, when at one of our meetings it was proposed, that the Design should 
be again insisted upon, and another New Overture or A£l with some few 
Alterations and Amendments ofier'd ; which was agreed to by the Society : 
and accordingly there was one drawn, whereof, for the Reader's greater 
Satisfaftion, and that he may the 'more readily understand our most Generous 
and Gentlemanly Design in it, the Tenor follows." 

The document is too lengthy to be inserted here. It will be sufficient 
to state that this Aft, had it been passed, would have constituted the Society 
into a body corporate, composed of a " preses," a treasurer, clerks and 
officers, and ordinary members ; new members only to be admitted there- 
after if, upon trial, they were found qualified. It was to have given this 
Corporation the power " to Projeft, Reason, Conclude upon and Enaft such 
Methods and Regulations, alwise consisting with our Laws and A6ts of 
Parliament, as they (the members) shall find convenient for promoting the 
Art of the Sword ; and particularly with full power to them to cognoice 
upon and determine all differences betwixt parties upon Points of Honour, 
for the more effe<5lual preventing of duels/' 

The Society was further to have the right of granting licenses to such 
fencing-masters as it deemed competent to teach this noble art, and full 
powers were to be granted to it by her Majesty to call any person whatso- 


ever professing or teaching the said art to a trial and examination therein, 
and ^^ seize and imprison " all such masters as should refuse to submit to its 

The draught was again delivered to a member of Parliament, but time 
could not be found to bring it before the House, which was then taken up 
with affairs of the greatest consequence, particularly that of the union of the 
two kingdoms. 

The scheme, moreover, never seems to have obtained the desired 
sanftion — although the Society, in its private capacity, long remained a 
flourishing one — for it again forms an important topic of the " True and 
Solid Art of Fighting, &c.,'* published in 17 14, as well as of Sir W. Hope's 
last work, " A Vindication of the True Art of Self Defence, with a proposal 
to the Honourable Members of Parliament for creAing a Court of Honour 
in Great- Britain, to which is Annexed a Short but very useful Memorial for 
Sword-Men." This book, written only a few months before his death, was 
suggested by the perusal of Dr. Cockbufn's " History and Examination 
of Duelling," which seems to have induced him to bring once more under 
public notice the proposal which had emanated from the *' Society of Sword- 
men " in 1707. 

The " Vindication " was reproduced in London five years later 
(1729), presumably on account of the ** Memorial to Sword-men," the 
only part of the book which could have been of interest to the reader at 
that time. 

Sir W. Hope is also the author of two other works : the " Fencing 
Master's Advice to his Scholar," and " Observations on the Gladiator's 
Stage- Fighting,"* which, however, it has not been our good luck to meet 
with. The latter, especially, must be of interest, as the " Stage-Fight," which 
was such an important feature in the life of the fencing community until 
the middle of the eighteenth century, was considered a particularly attraftive 
speftacle in the days of William III., Anne, and the first George, when the 
spirit of duelling was so prevalent. 

The stage-fight of the eighteenth century; although the outcome of 
those ** prizes " played in public by the old " Maisters of Defence " or their 
scholars, was a prize-fight in another sense. Its objeft was to win, not 
merely glory, but likewise the stakes deposited on the wager, as well as the 
gate-money, which became the property of the gladiator who "kept the 
stage to the last." 

The tenor of the challenges, nevertheless, as regards pomposity and 
braggadocio, was not much altered since the days of G. Silver, as the 

^ All we know about these two boob is, that the former was published in Edinburgh 
between 1692 and 1707, and the latter in London about the year 17 16. 

D D 


following specimens of the usual methods of advertising a coming fight will 
show : — * 

" At the Bear Garden in Hockley in the Hole. 

*' A Tryal of Skill to be Performed between two Profound Masters of 
the Noble Science of Defence on Wednesday next, being this 13,^ of the 
instant July, 1709, at Two of the Clock precisely. 

** I, George Gray, born in the City of Norwich, who has Fought in 
most Parts of the West Indies, viz., Jamaica, Barbadoes, and several other 
Parts of the World ; in all Twenty-five times, upon a Stage, and was never 
yet Worsted, and now lately come to London ; do invite James Harris, to 
meet and Exercise at these following Weapons, viz. : — 

Back Sword, 

Sword and Dagger, 
Sword and Buckler, 

Single Falchon, 

Case of Falchons. 

" I, James Harris, Master of the said Noble Science of Defence, who 
formerly rid in the Horse guards, and hath Fought a Hundred and Ten 
Prizes, and never left a Stage to any Man : will not fail (God Willing) to 
meet this brave and bold Inviter at the Time and Place appointed, desiring 
Sharp Swords, and from him no Favour. 

** Note. No person to be upon the Stage but the Seconds. Vivat 

Here is another of the same kind : — 

" At the Bear Garden in Hockley in the Hole. 

" A Tryal of Skill to be Performed between these two following Masters 
of the Noble Science of Defence, on Wednesday, the Fifth of April, 1710, 
at Three of the Clock precisely. 

** I, John Parkes, from Coventry, Master of the Noble Science of 
Defence, do Invite you, Thomas Hesgate, to meet me, and Exercise at these 
following weapons, viz. : — 

Single Falchon, 
Case of Falchons, 
And QuarterstaflF. 

Back Sword, 
Sword and Dagger, 
Sword and Buckler, 

'^ I, Thomas Hesgate, a Barkshire Man, Master of the said Science, 
will not fail (God Willing) to meet this brave and bold Inviter, at the Time 
and Place appointed ; desiring Sharp Swords, and from him no Favour. 

' Harlcian MSS., 5»93i» 50, and 5,931, 277. 


Note. No person to be upon the Stage but the Seconds. Vivat 


Advertisements were generally inserted a few days beforehand in news- 
papers, which, on rare occasions, gave accounts of some remarkable fights* 

The following fragment is due to the pen of Steele, and appeared in the 
" Speftator *' on July 21, 17 12 (No. 436) : — 

'^ The Combatants met in the Middle of the Stage, and shaking Hands, 
as removing all malice, they retired with much Grace to the Extremities of 
it ; from whence they immediately faced about, and approached each other. 
Miller with a Heart full of Resolution, Buck with a. watchful untroubled 
Countenance ; Buck regarding principally his own Defence, Miller chiefly 
thoughtful of annoying his Opponent. It is not easie to describe the many 
Escapes and imperceptible Defences between Two Men of quick Eyes, and 
ready Limbs : but Miller's Heat laid him open to the Rebuke of the calm 
Buck, by a large Cut on the Forehead. Much Effusion of Blood covered 
his Eyes in a moment, and the Huz2»s of the Crowd undoubtedly quickened 
his Anguish. The Assembly was divided into Parties upon their different 
ways of Fighting : while a poor Nymph in one of the Galleries apparently 
suffered for Miller, and burst into a Flood of Tears. As soon as his 
Wound was wrapped up, he came on again in a little Rage, which still 
disabled him further. But what brave Man can be wounded with more 
Patience and Caution } The next was a warm eager Onset, which ended in 
a decisive Stroke on the Left Leg of Miller. The Lady in the Gallery, 
during the second Strife, covered her face ; and for my part, I could not 
keep my thoughts from being mostly employed on the Consideration of her 
unhappy Circumstance that Moment, hearing the Clash of Swords, and 
apprehending Life or Viftory concerned her Lover in every Blow, but not 
daring to satisfie herself on whom they fell. The Wound was exposed to 
the view of all who could delight in it, and sowed up on the Stage. The 
surly Second of Miller declared at this Time that he would that Day Fort- 
night fight M' Buck at the Same Weapons, declaring himself the Master 
of the renowned Gorman; but Buck denied him the Honour of that 
Courageous Disciple, and asserting that he himself had taught that Cham- 
pion accepted the Challenge." 

It is diflicult to understand how men could pass through many such 
ordeals, and yet remain physically fit to handle a sword with vigour and dex- 
terity. But such was evidently the case, showing how little dangerous, after 
all, mere cutting of muscles is to strong and healthy men — a single punfture 
with a small sword through the lungs or abdomen would probably have 
settled these sturdy gladiators for life. 

The most renowned master of the sword during the first part of the 


eighteenth century was the renowned Fig, who is, however, still more 
celebrated in the annals of pugilism as having been the first " champion " 
(17 1 9- 1734). In his day boxing began to be generally included in the 
programme of stage fights. 

Mr. Pownes Miles, in his '* Pugilistica," reproduces a specimen of the 
bills which advertised such entertainments : — 

** At Fig's great tiled Booth, on the Bowling green, Southwark, during 
the time of the Fair ^which begins on Saturday, the i8th of September), the 
Town will be entertamed with the Manly Arts of Foil Play^ Back-Sword^ 
Cudgelling and Boxing. 

** The noted Parks, from Coventry, and the celebrated Gentleman 
prize-fighter Mr. Millar will display their skill in a tilting-bout, showing 
the advantages of Time and Measure: also, Mr. Johnson,* the great 
swordsman, superior to any man in the world for his unrivalled display of 
the hanging guards in a grand attack of Self Defence, against the all powerful 
arm of the renowned Sutton. 

" DELFORCE,the finished Cudgeller, will likewise exhibit his uncommon 
feats with the single-stick ; and who challenges any man in the kingdom to 
enter the lists with him for a broken head or a belly full. 

" BucKHORSE and several other Pugilists will show the Art of Boxing. 

" To conclude with a grand parade by the valiant Fig, who will exhibit 
his knowledge in various combats^ with the Foil, Back-Sword, Cudgel and 
Fist. Vivat Rex." 

The name of Fig as a scientific teacher of all manner of fights recurs 
constantly in the " Tatler " and the ** Guardian," and is mentioned with 
great enthusiasm in the " Charafters of the Masters *' which Captain Godfrey 
gives us, in his " Treatise upon the Useful Science of Defence, Connedling 
the Small and Back Sword, and shewing the Affinity between them," * and 
in which also we hear again of Buck, Miller, and Parkes of Coventry. 
Part of this account seems worth reproducing here for the sake of its 
curious encomiastical style. 

'* Timothy Buci; was a most solid Master, it was apparent in his Per- 
formances even when grown decrepid, and his old Age could not hide his 
uncommon Judgement. He was the Pillar of the Art, and all his Followers, 
who excelled, built upon him. 

" Mr. Miller * was the palpable Gentleman through the Prize- Fighter. 

' Averred to have been uncle to Dr. Samuel Johnson. 

' This work is said to have been first published about 17359 but the edition most com- 
monly met with is dated 1747. Its chief interest consists in the details on back-sword 
play it contains. Another work of the same kind is the '* Expert Sword-man*s Companion ; 
or the True Art of Self-Defence," &c., by Donald McBane^ Glasgow, 1728. 

^ This Mr, Miller in the reign of Queen Anne was a sergeant in a foot regiment. Later 
on he seems to have gradually established his position as that of a gentleman, and received a 


He was a most beautiful Pidure on the Stage, taking in all his Attitudes and 
vastly engaging in his Demeanor. There was such an easy AAion in him, 
unconcerned Behaviour and agreeable Smile in the midst of Fighting that 
one could not help being prejudiced in his Favour." 

** Fig was the Atlas of the Sword, and may he remain the gladiating 
Statue ! In him, Strength, Resolution, and unparallell'd Judgement, conspired 
to form a Matchless Master. There was a Majesty shone in his Countenance, 
and blazed in all his Adions, beyond all I ever saw. His right Leg, bold and 
firm, and his left which could hardly ever be disturbed, gave him the sur- 
prizing Advantage already proved, and struck his Adversary with Despair and 
Panic. He had that peculiar way of stepping in, I spoke of, in a Parry; he 
knew his Arm, and its just time of moving, put a firm Faith in that, and never 
let his Adversary escape his Parry. He was just as much a greater Master 
than any other I ever saw, as he was a greater Judge of Time and Measure." 

Fig had been the principal master of Captain Godfrey, who informs us 
that he " followed chiefly the praftice of the Back Sword^ because Conceit 
cannot so readily be cured with the file (the Foil) in the Small, as with the 
Stick in that : for the Argument um Bastinandi is very strong and convincing ; 
and though a Man may dispute the full Hit of a File, yet if he is knocked 
down with a Stick, he will hardly get up again and say, it just brushed 

** I chose to go mostly to Fio, and exercise with him ; partly as I 
knew him to be the ablest Master, and partly, as he was of a rugged Temper, 
and would spare no Man, high or low, who took up a Stick against him." 

** John Parks of Coventry was a thorough Swords-Man, and an Ex- 
cellent Judge of all its Parts. He was a convincing Proof of what I advanced 
about the natural Suppleness of some Men's Joints. No man bid fairer for 
an acquired Spring than he ; but notwithstanding the vast Exercise through 
such numbers of Battles fought for twenty years,* he never could arrive to it. 
He still remained heavy, slow, and ina(5tive, and had no friend to help him 
but his staunch Judgement." * 

captaincy from George II. There is little doubt that the album of fencing plates published 
in 1738 was brought out under his care. See Bibliography. He is said to have greatly dis- 
tinguished himself »* in '45," under the Duke of Cumberland. 

^ John Parks^ who died in 1733, had fought no less than 350 stage-fights. 

' We may also here mention the following as having been well-known prize-fighters in the 
heyday of back-sword stage-fighting : John Terrcwcst, John Stokes, William Gill, Perkins 
and Butler (both Irishmen), Sutton, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Sherlock, and John Delforce, " a rival 
to Fig's memory," says Godfrey, " though he fought with the Cudgell only." There was also a 
Piedmontese called Besson, ''who taught the use of the Italian Spadroon." The most popu- 
lar of these men had amphitheatres of their own, the others were " to be heard of at the 
taverns in the neighbourhood of Southwark, and especially Hockley-in-t he-Hole, at the Bear 
Gardens, in Smithfield, and in '' Alsatia." 

Fig's Bjsiness Card, showing the stage, the pit, and the gallery 
of an "amphiiheaire." Drawn by Hogarth. 


The use of the back sword for the purpose of stage-fighting seems to 
have been on the wane among gladiators during the first part of George II. 's 
reign, when it gradually gave way before the increasingly popular sport of 
" Boxing/* But to those now-forgotten exhibitions of skill and valour we owe 
the superiority of what may be called our national swordsmanship, that of the 
broadsword, and even of its imperfed representative, ** the single-stick." * 

Before, however, pursuing this subjcft, it may be well to take a cursory 
notice of the works on the small sword which appeared in England before 
Angelo's,andof which a detailed examination will be unnecessary, as our small- 
sword play was, as a rule, closely copied from that of the French Academics. 

" The Gentleman's Tutor of the Small-Sword," by Henry Blackwell, 
two editions of which appeared at twenty-five years' interval.^ 

"The English Master of Defence, or the Gentleman's Al-a-mode 
accomplishment," published at York by one Zach. Wylde. 

A very uninteresting work by a Monsieur Valdin, dedicated in 1729 to 
the Duke of Montague.* 

The magnificent album of fencing plates published by Captain Miller 
in 1730. 

And lastly, Andrew Mahon's translation of Labat's " Art en fait 
d'Armes,"* which appeared first in Dublin, 1734, and the next year in 

Besides the regular French play, many English masters, however, advo- 
cated, in view of a sudden attack or encounter in the dark or in a crowd, the 
praAice of a very much simplified system, with that hanging guard inseconde 
so much panegyrized in Hope's " New Method of Fencing." Some less 
nice method or using the sword, especially applicable to midnight scufiles, 
was deemed requisite in those times against the contingency of a brawl in a 

^ The Italians and the Germans had, it is true, a cutting play of their own, and from them 
we took our so-called ** Spadroon ** or cut-and-thrust play, but it was pra£lised with weapons 
extremely light in comparison with our English back sword. The praflice of the Diisack 
in Germany, and of the Schiavona or other basket-hilted swords in Italy, does not seem to 
have been much cultivated after the first years of the seventeenth century. 

' See Biblio., 1705 and 1730. To the second edition is sometimes annexed, in addition 
to the six woodcuts in the text, a curious colledlion of folding plates, most of which are 
faithful reprodu6iions of Capo Ferro's and Giganti's attitudes, in which, however, the figures 
are dressed in the fashion of Queen Anne's reign, with large periwigs, lace ruffles, high-heeled 
square-toed shoes, &c. 

' In this book the author announces his intention to bring out a very elaborate and com- 
prehensive treatise " after the manner of Salvator Fabris." This great work, however, does 
not seem to have yet been discovered. 

^ Seep. 152. We may likewise mention here the names of the most popular teachers of 
the smaU sword — many of whom were evidently Frenchmen— during the reigns of Anne and 
George I. : Tcnte, Bergerreau, Martin, Dubois, Morin, Campbell, Brent, Barney Hill, Low, 
and Tully (this last is mentioned as hi« principal master by Andrew Mahon). 


tavern or a bagnio ; unpleasant encounters were also generally to be expeAed 

with the *' Muns." the " Heftors," the "Scourers," the "Mohocks" or 

" Hawfcubites," " Bold Bucks" or " Hell Fires/' — whatever may have been 

the name adopted at the time by the rowdies, fashionable or otherwise, who 

made the streets unsafe to anyone whom 

they deemed incapable of requiting their 

cowardly bullying with a taste of cold 


But, to return to the back-sword play, 
it was an art requiring not so much science 
and agility as coolness and muscular vigour, 
and therefore it was very popular among 
all classes of Englishmen, although it was 
only much practised by those whose social 
position did not admit of their wearing 
" the sword" (i.e. the small sword). 

"*C.. ^, ^ ..,.«. The back sword was usuallv basket- 

Fie. 117. — The Guard m "Back- l-i. j* l - ..l t 

iwording" hilted — very much in the same style as 

what is conventionally called the claymore 
— with a straight blade some thirty-two inches in length, with only the 
right edge sharpened, and the point more or less rounded off. It was 
generally held with all the fingers closed round the grip, but some of the 
best masters, like Fig and Godfrey, 
pointed out, at a late period, the ad- 
vantage of extending the thumb along 
• the back of the grip, in order to ensure 

on all occasions a cut with the true 
edge. Previous to Fig the guard had 
apparently always been a hanging one 
in a kind of high seconde, but at a 
later period a low tierce, imitated from 
the small-sword play, was the most in 

The old notion, prevalent among 

"^ the "Swashbucklers" of the sixteenth 

Fig. 128.— Flip at the head. century, that it was unmanly to strike 

beneath the girdle,' was evidently very 

obsolete in the eighteenth, for we find that cuts are impartially aimed at all 

parts of the adversary's body, from his advanced foot, and his wrist, to 

' " This manner of lighE he (Rowland York) first brought into England .... when 
the use was with little bucklers and with broadswords, it being accounted unmanly to strike 
bcneaih the girdle." — Carleton'a " Thankful Remembrance) of God'i Mercy," iSij- 


his head. The play was by no means complicated, none but the simplest 
feints being accounted praftical; parries were always taken in pronation. 
On all accounts it seems, in fafl:, to have been in every respcA but that 
the point was not used, similar to our 
modern play, not with the single-stick, 
but with the praAice sabre. 

For praiftice, cudgels with stout 
wickerwork baskets were used, but 
no mention is ever made of any kind 
of proteAion for head or body. " I 
have purchased my knowledge in the 
Back Sword," says Captain Godfrey, 
" with many a broken Head and 
Bruise in every part of me." 

We find many allusions in Eliza- 
bethan literature to "wasters,"* used 
with or without the buckler, as a p:. ,, n . .,\. t c. j ■ j 

, . y ■ , , tig. 120. — Cut at the left side parried. 

substitute for the sword, and among 

apprentices and such people in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries 

"wasters " seem to have been as popular a sport as '* single-sticks " in later 


Under the Georges, especially the 
First and the Second, " backswording " 
with sticks, in imitation of the gladiators' 
fight, was a never-failing entertainment 
at all popular gatherings, not only in 
London, but also in remote provinces. 
Long after the sanguinary back-sword 
fights had gone out of fashion, cud- 
gelling or singte-stick play for prizes 
remaned a national amusement, espe- 
cially among country people, and in 
some parts of England proficiency with Fig. 1 30.- 
the stick was an accomplishment as 
much admired and cultivated as that of wrestling. 

The art of cudgelling, however, as a substitute for swordsmanship, soon 
acquired a singularly specialized charaAer, being, in faA, as much restri<5(ed 
as the German students' Schlaeger fights. 

The manner in which this so-called " backswording " was played during 

^ A " waster " was a woodrn sword used for praflice by the commoD people. " Thou 
wouldst be loth to play half-a-dozen venies (bouts) at wasters with a good Tellow for a broken 
head," — B«flumont and Fletcher's " Philaster." 


the latter part of the eighteenth century, and in some old-fashioned parts of 
England as late as the first quarter of this, was usually as follows : ' — 

The combatants, each armed with a baskct-hilted stick, somewhat 

stouter and shorter than our modem single-stick, faced each other within 

very close measure — somewhat like the German students — holding their 

weapon in a high hanging guard, with the basket a little Higher than the 

head, the point about on a level with the shoulders. The left arm was used 

to screen the left side of the head, elbow 

upwards as high as the crown, and as 

much brought forward as a handkerchief 

or a belt passed under the left thigh, and 

grasped in the left hand, would allow. 

With such an attitude all consideration 

of diitance had to be abandoned, and the 

player's sole attention was direded to 

that of time and guards 

The objed of the play was to draw 

blood froni the opponent's head, viftory 

being achieved as soon as at least an inch 

of it appeared anywhere on his head or 

Fig. 131. — A successful flip at the face. This was called a "broken" head. 

held, timed on the adversary's cut at Thus the only decisive blows were those 

'*« '•ody- that reached the head, but they were also 

addressed to the arms, the shoulders — in 

faft, anywhere above the girdle where the result of a blow might be to effcft 

a temporary opening to the head. 

The requisites for this very peculiar play were chiefly strength and 
suppleness of the wrist, from which alt the cuts were delivered with great 
swiftness, and so as to disturb the guard as little and for as short a time as 
possible; a quick perception of" time" — most successful hits being delivered 
either on the adversary's feint or on his attempt to bring down the protefting 
left arm by a cut on the left flank ; lasdy, great caution and a certain amount 
of endurance, to enable the player to seize the right time for a flip at his 
opponent's head without exposing his own, heedless of many smart raps on 
the elbow or across the ribs.' 

' The only wort, apparently, in which the rules of this now obsolete single-stick play 
arc set forth systematically is one called " Defensive Exercises, comprising Wrestling, &c.. 
Boxing, &c., &C., with one hundred illuscrations. By Donald Walker." London: Thomas 
Hurst, 1840. 8vo. 

* See Introduflion. p. 8. 

' For a graphic description of the sJngle-itick play as it was prafliscd in our gnnd- 
fathen' days we may refer the reader to the second chapter of that well-known and delightful 
book, "Tom Brown's School- Dajs." 

"BACK SWOnniNG." 211 

As to the process by which all these peculiar restridions came to be 
imposed on this game, so evidently derived from the old waster play, we can 
only ofler the following surmises. 

In a contest with cudgels, however telling and painful might be blows 
recttved on any part of the body, the only one looked upon as decisive was 
'* a broken head," and in a prize contest a streak of blood thereon naturally 
was looked upon as a conclusive sign of defeat. We know that the left hand 
was always kept in readiness, in rapier and small-sword play, to ward off 
attacks addressed to the left side of the body,' and although such a device 
could not be resorted to against a sharp back sword^ there was no reason, in 
the eyes of unscientific but hardy cudgellers, why a few blows of a round 
stick should not willingly be taken on the left arm or shoulder, if thereby the 
vid:orious cut at the opponent's head could be secured. 

Later on, we may presume, the rules of the game were made more 
regular, so as to prevent, among other things, the possibility of seizing the 
adverse stick, and it became the habit to fix the position of the left hand by 
grasping a belt or a handkerchief passed round the thigh. 
' See, for examples, Figa. 59, 94, 97, 102, 123-4.-5. 


3HE chief work in the English literature of fencing — in the vulgar 

meaning of the word, viz., small-sword fencing — is undoubtedly 

Angelo's " Exole des Armes," of which as many as six diflfe- 

I rent editions or reproduftions were published during the second 

half of the eighteenth century, and a seventh in 1 8 1 7. 

The well-known institution, " Angelo's School of Arms" — the name of 
which was a household word among men of fashion in the days of our grand- 
sires — even now, when the art of rence is so much neglefted in England, re- 
mans, on account of its old associations, one of the most interesting " salles 
d'armes " in Europe. In this school three generations of Angelos kept up 
the honour of English fencing in London for the space of a century.' 

The founder of this celebrated family of masters, Domenico Angelo* 
Malevolti Tremamondo, was the son of a very wealthy Italian merchant, and 
was born at Leghorn in 1716. As a young man of no profession, but with 
a liberal allowance from his father, he travelled all over the Continent, and 
eventually settled some ten years in Paris, where he studied the art of fence 
with unusual assiduity under various masters of the Academic, but especially 
under the elder Teillagory. This Teillagory, besides being one of the most 
celebrated swordsmen of his age, was likewise from all accounts the most 
scientific horseman in Europe, and occupied as prominent a place in the 
" Manege Royal " as he did in the Academic d' Armes. 

Under his tuition Angelo, who was especially gifted for all physical 
exercises, became in a short time, like his master, one of the most " elegant 
riders of the high horse." 

The following adventure was the indireft cause of his abandoning 

' A paitner of the last Angelo, Mr. V^lliam McTurk, has been at the head of thii 
ettablith m en t since tS66. 

* Hu English friends later on persuaded him to abandon this too outlandish patronymic 
and adopt the simple name of Angelo. 


Paris to setde in England, and is related by his son, Henry Angelo, in his 
** Reminiscences " ; — ' 

** My father inherited from nature a singularly graceful person : this 
rare gift was not bestowed in vain ; he cultivated with assiduity every external 
accomplishment, and became proverbially one of the most elegant men of the 
age ; indeed, it was to his natural and acquired advantages that he owed his 
future fortune and his fame. 

" A short period before his quitting France, there was a public fencing 
match at a celebrated hotel in Paris, at which were present many of the most 
renowned professors and amateurs of that science, most of whom entered the 
lists. My father, who was honoured with the particular esteem of the Due 
de Nivernois, was persuaded by that nobleman to try his skill. He had long 
before acquired the reputation of the first amateur swordsman, and was no 
less reputed for his scientific management of the horse. 

'* No sooner was his name announced than a celebrated English beauty^ 
Miss Margaret Woffington, the renowned a&ress, then on a visit at this gay 
city, who, having met my father at a party, became suddenly captivated by his 
person and superior address^ and following him hither, in presence of a crowd 
of spedlators, she stepped forward and presented him with a small bouquet of 
roses. The company, as well ladies as gentlemen of rank, surprised at this, 
were not less struck by the gallant manner with which he received the gift. 
He placed it on his left breast, and addressing the other knights of the sword, 
exclaimed, * This will I proteft against all opposers.' The match commenced, 
and he fenced with several of the first masters, not one of whom could dis- 
turb a single leaf of the bouquet.*' 

One of the results of the intimacy which subsequently sprung up be- 
tween Angelo and the beautiful Peg Woflington was his accompanying her 
to England, where he soon found a wider scope for the utilization of his talents. 
He was before long launched in the gay world of London, where his foreign 
grace, coupled with so many manly and gentlemanly accomplishments, soon 
won him a number of friends in many walks of life,^ whether artistic, political, 
fiterary, or merely fashionable. 

During the first part of his stay in England, Angelo devoted himself 
solely to " manege " riding ; " a few months after his arrival in London he 
became ecuyer to Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, who was one of the 

^ ** Reminiscences of Henry Angelo, with Memoirs of his late Father and Friends, &c.'* 
Dedicated *' to His most Gracious Majesty King George the Fourth." 8vo., London, 1828. 

^ The ** Reminiscences " are full of anecdotes concerning some of the most interesting 
figures of the last century. It appears that the first Angelos counted among their intimates 
such men as Garrick, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Fox, Home Tooke, Wilkes, Peter Pindar, 
Bach, and many others. Henry Angelo was a bosom friend of Richard Brinsley 


most accomplished horsemen of his day, and who had a spacious manege near 
his mansion in Whitehall" 

Lord Pembroke ^ became so attached to his society that after Angelo 
married, at his patron s desire he took a house in the neighbourhood of his 
lordship's family seat at Wilton/' 

There, among other dudes, he undertook to train the riding instrudors 
of '' Elliot's Light Horse," then considered a crack regiment, and of which 
Lord Pembroke was lieutenant-colonel. One of these instruAors was '* old 
Philip Astley, who afterwards became so celebrated for his horsemanship at 
his own amphitheatre." 

Besides the patronage of Lord Pembroke, Angelo enjoyed that of the 
Duke of Queensberry, which he owed to the affection of the duchess for his 
wife. The duke himself withal was an assiduous frequenter of the riding 
school. It is no wonder that with such powerful friends at his back, and 
after the praise publicly bestowed on him by the king, his success in London 
should have been so marvellously rapid : after a performance in presence of 
King George II., his Majesty declared that " Mr. Angelo was the most 
elegant horseman of his day." * Within a year of his setting up his private 
manege at the back of his house in Carlisle Street, Soho Square — which was 
then a most fashionable neighbourhood — he made upwards of £2000 by his 
tuition in horsemanship. 

About the year 1758 he seems to have had some reverse of fortune, 
which induced him to apply himself strenuously to the purpose of making 
money, and it is then also that he began to take up fencing in a professional 

" My father's celebrity in the manege," says Henry Angelo, in his 
Reminiscences, '' was scarcely less spread than the fame of his skUl in the 
management of the sword, though he had only hitherto pradised fencing as 
an amateur. 

" On his return to London with his patron and friend, the Earl of Pem- 
broke, he received a card inviting him to a public trial of skill with Dr. 
Keys, reputed the most expert fencer in Ireland. The challenge being 
accepted, the Thatched House Tavern was appointed for the scene of aftion,* 

* " It was in consequence of this interview that his Majesty, when the late Mr, West 
was commissioned to paint the piflure of the Battle of the Boyne, persuaded him to make a 
study of my father for the equestrian figure of King William for that well-known composition, 
saying, ' Few painters place the figure properly upon the horse, and Angelo is the finest 
horseman in the world.' Mr. West adopted the suggestion, and my father sat for the figure 
accordingly, on his own horse Monarch. It may appear a curious coincidence that he also, 
through a fortuitous circumstance, sat to the sculptor as a model for the equestrian statue of 
King William subsequently set up in Merrion Square, Dublin." — " Reminiscences " of Henry 

' It appears, from various contemporary accounts, that assaults of arms often took place 


where my father attended at the time prescribed, two o'clock, though he had 
been riding the whole morning at Lord Pembroke's. His lordship, with his 
accustomed condescension, walked into the apartment arm in arm with his 
friend and protege. My father, however, was not prepared for such an 
assemblage, many ladies of rank and fashion, as well as noblemen and gentle- 
men, being present, and he, expecting only to meet with gentlemen, was in 
riding dress and in boots. 

" My father, who had never seen his antagonist until this moment, was 
rather surprised at the dodor's appearance, he being a tall, athletic figure, 

Fig. 132. — ^The Outside Guard. — Roworth. 

wearing a huge wig, without his coat and waistcoat, his shirt sleeves tucked 
up, exposing a pair of brawny arms, sufficient to cope in the ring with 
Broughton or Slack ; and thus equipped, with foil in hand, he was pacing the 

** The speAators being all assembled, after the first salutation from the 
dodor, which was sufficiently open and frank, previous to the assault he took 
a bumper of CogniaCy and offisred another to my father, which he politely re- 
fused, not being accustomed to so ardent a provocative. 

" The doAor having thus spirited himself for the attack, began with that 
violence and determined method, which soon discovered to those who were 

at celebrated taverns during the last century. Some fencing-masters gave regularly entertain- 
ments of that kind in coffee houses. 


skilled in die science, that in the true sense of the term used by the French, 
he was no better than a tirailleur, jeu de soldat — Anglicized, a poker. 

" My ^ther, to indulge him in his mode of assault, for some time solely 
defended himself against his repeated attacks without receiving one hit ; for, 
as the brandy operated, a coup d^hasard in the do<5tor's favour would have only 
encouraged him the more. Hence, allowing his opponent to exhaust himself, 
and my father having sufficiently manifested his superior skill in the science 
by thus aAing on the defensive, with all the elegance and grace of attitude for 
which he was renowned, after having planted a dozen palpable hits on the 
breast of his enraged ant^onist, he made his bow to the ladies, and retired 


F'g> '33- — The Inside Guard. — Roworth. 

amidst the plaudits of the speftators It was soon after this public 

display of his superior science that the elder Angclo, urged by his friends, first 
commenced teaching the science of fencing. Indeed, the splendid offers which 
were made him were too tempting for a person in his state of dependence 
to refuse. His noble patron, though desirous of retaining his valuable 
services, yet, with that generous spirit which marked all his a<ftions, advised 
my father to accept the offers that were pressing upon him. This at once 
settled his future fortune, and his first scholar was the late Duke of Devonshire." 

Angelo's house very soon became a " school of refinement," where young 
men were sent for a cert^n time, not only to acquire proficiency in the 
gentlemanly arts of manege riding and small-sword fencing, but also to obtain 
indireftly the benefit of consorting with the brilliant company of wits, poli- 
ticians, and artists which almost daily met round his hospitable board. 

Angelo derived positive affluence from his two schools, and is said to 


have made upwards of £4000 a year by his foil alone, which income ^' he 
spent like a gentleman." 

In the year 1758, ** having been introduced to the Princess Dowager of 
Wales, mother of our late venerable sovereign,* he was engaged by her royal 
highness to teach the young princes the use of the small sword." Subsequently 
he had the honour of teaching King George III. himself, and the Duke of 

In 1 763 Angelo brought out in the most magnificent style his " Ecole des 
Armes," the immense expense of which was covered by subscriptions among 
236 noblemen and gentlemen, his patrons or his pupils. This immense 
oblong folio contains forty-seven plates, which were drawn by the painter 
Gwynn, and engraved by Ryland, Grignion, and Hall. Angelo stood for one 
of the combatants throughout the whole series, and some of his friends, 
among others Lord Pembroke and the Chevalier d'Eon, for the other. 

The text, which reproduces substantially all the principles of small- 
sword fencing recognized by the French Academy of Arms about the middle 
of the eighteenth century, when Teillagory and La Boessiere (the elder) , 
O'SuUivan and Danet, flourished in Paris, calls for no remarks after the notice 
on the two last masters given in Chapter XI. 

Indeed, although Danet aflfeds to despise the ** Ecole des Armes," the 
only difference perceptible between his own work and Aneelo's — if we 
negleA Danet's revised nomenclature and his three altitudes of the hand in 
pushing carte — is that the latter is immensely more artistic, and was from the 
very first a much greater success than his " Art des Armes." 

Two years later appeared a second edition — ^with a double column of 
text, English and French — and a third in 1767, similar in every rcspedt to 
the second. 

In 1787, Henry Angelo, son of Malevolti, who was then praftically at 
the head of the school — he had been assiduously studying fencing in Paris 
during many years after his leaving Eton — reproduced his father's book, but 
in a smaller form, with the English text only, and smaller plates.' 

In his memoirs, engrossed as he is in his anecdotes of celebrated charac- 
ters, Henry Angelo seems very loth to give us much information concerning 
his school, and indeed any fencing topics, and in most cases abstains with 
graceful ease from giving any dates. But it appears that in the elder Angclo's 
time, his fencing rooms were situated at his old house in Carlisle Street; later 
on he took a " salle d'armes " in the Opera House Buildings, Haymarkct, 
belonging to a French fencing-master called Redas. 

* "Reminiscences," 1827, 

' These reduced plates are the same as those which appear in the appendix to Diderot 
and D'Alembert's " Encyclopedic Methodiquc." Henry Angelo's master in Paris was Motet, 
then known all over the Continent as the strongest pareur living. 

F F 


These rooms were destroyed by fire in 1789, and the "Academy " was 
transferred to Bond Street, where it remained until 1 830. 

The elder Angelo died in 1802, at the age of eighty-six. A -few days 
before his death he still gave lessons in fencing. 

The present rooms at the top of St. James's Street were taken by Henry 
Angelo's son in 1 830 ; they were originally part of Colonel Nedham's cele- 
brated riding school. They have preserved their charafteristic appearance to 
this day, and still contain many relics of the old school in the shape of 
piftures, arms, engravings, and autographs. 

Fig. 134. — The Hanging Guard.^ — Roworth. 

The following works, published during the last third of the eighteenth 
century, are not sufficiently important or original to be noticed here other- 
wise than superficially. 

** The Fencer's Guide,* being a Series of every branch required to 
compose a Complete System of Defence, &c., &c.," by A. Lonnergan, 
" Teacher of the Military Sciences," a very praftical treatise, and the most 
truly English of the eighteenth century, as the author attaches as much 
importance to the back sword as to the small sword, and endeavours as much 
as possible to avoid foreign jargon — a plausible purpose, but one, unfortu- 
nately, which has the eflfeA of somewhat confusing the reader. 

"Fencing Familiarised (L'Art des Armes Simplifie),"* by M. Olivier, 
Elive de tAcademie Royale de Paris, in French and English. 

Olivier, who kept a flourishing school in St. Dunstan's Court, Fleet 

* Often called by masters the " coward " guard, as they considered it a very safe one, but 
also one which was unfavourable to much offensive a£lion. 

* See Biblio., 1771-2. ^ See Biblio., 1771-80, 


Street, was perhaps, after Angelo, the most popular master of the small 
sword in London. His work is very sound, and thoroughly justifies its 
French title, as it contains a simplitied system, shorn of all unnecessary and 
obsolete detuls. This is one of the books of that period most commonly 
met with. 

" The Army and Navy Gentjeman's Companion," by J. McArthur, 
of the Royal Navy, of which two editions appeared at four years' 
interval, 1780-84. 

We may finish our sketch of the charaAer of English swordsmanship 

Fig. 13;.— The Spadroon Guard.'— F'g- ij6.— Th=Sc. George'i 

Roworth. Guard. — Roworth. 

with a brief notice of broadsword and spadroon play, as illustrated by 
Angelo (in Rowlandson's plates*), Lonnergan, and Roworth.* 

The broad or back-sword play praftised during the early part of the 
century was very simple, very safe, and very monotonous, but required, with 
an eye for distance a good judgment of time and a great amount of strength 
in the forearm and in the fingers. • 

As we have seen, some masters advocated a medium hanging guard, 
but the followers of the great Fig, and later on of Godfrey, preferred a 

' Rarely uwd, except with very light swords. 
' See BIblio. ' See Biblio. 


high one, derived from the small sword, either inside or outside, in carte or 

There was a great deal of traversing backwards and forwards. The 
attacks were delivered, with a chopping aiftion, — the back sword being too 
heavy a weapon to allow of much pipping — at all parts of the body. Cuts 
below the hips were usually avoided by slipping rather than parrying. The 
parries were five in number : high, outside and inside (tierce and quarte) ; 
hanging, outside and inside (low prime and seconde) ; and the head parry, 
the so-called St. George's guard .^ High parries were always accompanied 
by a recovery, drawing back the foot in order to avoid the danger of a cut 
at the leg in case the threatened attack should prove a feint. 

Later on, the creation of numerous light cavalry corps brought into 
vogue what was called the Austrian system, in which chopping aAion was 
replaced by the slicing peculiar to the showy praftice of the light curved 
Hungarian sabre. 

This play, which was no less efFeftive than the old-fashioned hacking, 
required a smaller expenditure of energy, and at the same time admitted of 
weaker parries ; its adoption introduced a great deal of variety into the 
sturdy old English back-swording. But although its monotony was relieved 
by the admixture, it is difficult to say whether its value as a defensive art 
was really improved.* 

The most usual guards were : the medium guard, with the arm 
extended straight out from the shoulder, and the sword nearly perpendicular, 
point upwards — from this the outside or inside guards could readily be 
assumed ; the hanging guard, arm extended, hand in pronation as high as 
the crown, point low — from this derived the " half hangers," or half hanging 
guard, inside and outside ; the spadroon guard, arm extended horizontally, 
hand in supination, point low. 

The two following, also enumerated by all these authors as guards^ were 
only parries, and " not intended to lie under " : — 

The St. George's guard (always accompanied by the recovery) ; and 
the half-circle guard — the former stopping a direA cut at the head, the 
latter inside cuts just below the wrist. 

The cuts were seven in number, six of which were usually practised in 

* So called, not, as many would believe, as having been invented by the celebrated 
swordsman St. George, " but," says Lonncrgan, " from the position that Holy Champion is 
represented to have held his arm in, in slaying the Dragon." 

* At the present day we have returned to a much simpler system, almost identical with 
the old back-sword play, excepting our use of the point and our disuse of traversing. In 
France, where this elegant but somewhat feeble slicing play is the only one practised at all, 
the sabre is so much neglcded in favour of the foil, that it is difficult to make any comparison 
between the contrepointc and our single-stick or broadsword play. 


a series in front of a diagram or target on the wall, precisely in the same 
order and manner as was taught by Marozzo two hundred and fifty years 
before,^ the only difference being that the pupil was now recommended to 
deliver them with as close motions as possible and with a " pushing *' or 
** drawing" aftion, according as the direftion of the cut was towards the adver- 
sary's body or from it. 

Thrusts in carte, low carte, tierce, and seconde, were also practised, but 
were never much in favour in broadsword play. 

With the spadroon, however — the light, straight, flat-bladed sword used 
for cut and thrust after the German rapier fashion — the play was in the 
main rather thrusting than cutting, cuts when delivered as attacks being pushed 
forward like thrusts, and when as reposts, either with a flip, cutting over the 
point, or with a drawing aftion in resuming the guard. 

Most of the attacks and parries belonging to the small sword were 
used with the spadroon, excepting circular ones; simple ones performed 
with a proper opposition being equally efFedive against both cut and thrust, 
whereas circular parries can only be of use against the point. 

The Angelos, the last member of which noted family of masters is still 
familiarly recollefted by many men, bring us as far as our own times. 

Since the last century there have been in England, and there are still, many 
masters of note, but the art of the sword, in all its branches, is now so 
generally neglefted, that schools purely devoted to fencing are excessively few. 
Swordsmanship is in most cases looked upon as a corollary to gymnastics, 
and a comparatively unimportant one. 

The common feeling with regard to this fascinating exercise is that it 
is to a certain point un-English^ its praftice rather a waste of time, and 
that, even if it were, as in days of old, valuable for the purpose of duelling, 
too assiduous a devotion to such an art would be looked up as contrary to 
our usual notions of honour and fair play. 

It is true that the use of the thrusting sword — whether it was the 
bird-spit and frog-pricking poniard" of the sixteenth century or the 
colichemarde " of Queen Anne's days — ^was at all times best taught by 
foreigners, and, although formerly a universally requisite accomplishment, 
may on that score be considered somewhat un-English. But broadsword 
play was always a national pastime, of greater antiquity even than our 

^ Sec p. 36. 



boxing ; nevertheless, it is as much negleded as that of the foil, and, among 
the few who do take it up, more admiration is bestowed on a cheerful 
receiver and dealer of loud-sounding blows than on a correA and scientific 
but too cautious champion. 

With regard to the alleged uselessness of fencing, it may be adduced 
that the question of utility is irrelevant in matters of sport. Many men, 
for instance — to whom the greatest proficiency as watermen can never be of 
any praftical use — devote more time and energy to the acquisition of skill 
in rowing or sculling than would sufiice to make them consummate swords- 
men, and this is the case in most branches of athletics. Moreover, the very 
faft that fencing skill could never nowadays enable anyone to heftor and bully 
his neighbour, ought to be sufi[icient to remove the objection of unfairness. 

One of the causes of the decay of the once ** noble science of fence " 
may be sought in the Englishman's passion for open-air exercise, a passion 
fostered by his school education, and which makes him dislike the idea of 
this seemingly monotonous exertion within doors. 

Of course it would be absurd to urge any man ever to sacrifice the 
green sward and the racket or the bat for the floor of the fencing-room and 
the foil or the stick, but there are many occasions when the former can only 
be longed for, whilst the latter are within reach ; and surely a well-filled 
fencing-room, where many pairs of clicking and glittering blades are at play, 
is a sufliciently attra6);ive spot. 

Fencing is an exercise which well repays anyone who has the perse- 
verance to submit to the drudgery of its early stages. The " Artist " — to 
use Sir William Hope's quaint expression — finds work for his head as well 
as for his limbs in every kind of personal combat ; but this is especially the 
case with fencing, where it is possible for the observant swordsman to utilize 
all his perceptive faculties in the discrimination of his opponent's charac- 
teristics, and, assuming that practice has sufificiently gymnasticized his body, 
to find intelledtual enjoyment in devising different plays for diflFerent 

The early masters usually devoted one chapter of their treatises to the 
various methods they deemed best to employ against diflTerent idiosyncrasies, 
such as the " Choleric " and the " Phlegmatic," the " Impetuous " and the 
" Cautious," the '^ Timid " and the " Valorous," &c. Of course there 
cannot be such a conflict of passions in a contest ^* with blunts " as there 
was " with sharps," but, in a sufliciently prolonged assault, the player's true 
charader always tends to reveal itself.* 

'* In a good fencer the head works as much as the body," say the best 

' The well-known and witty French writer, Ernest Legouvc, who was once a gjreat 
escrimeur^ used to say that he never felt he knew a man's character until he had played a few 
bouts with him ! 


masters; to become such a *' good fencer," however, very long praftice is 

^rs longa, vita brevis. The art of fence is undoubtedly a long one to 
master ; nevertheless, it would be difficult to discover any swordsman of 
standing who regrets the time he has devoted to it ; it is a wonder that 
comparatively so few men take up swordsmanship in earnest, and that the 
most athletic nation in Europe does not assume the lead in that as well as in 
all other sports. 



90 doubt the modem small sword pre- 
H sents at first sight very little family 
l likeness to the sword of a knight of 
u old, but, unlike as these weapons are, 
" they are not more so than the men 
they were devised for. 

We can trace in an uninterrupted series the 
changes which took place in the side arm, not only 
as far as the time when an iron sword was first con- 
strufted, but even to that remote period when its 
prehistoric ancestor — the club — began to assume 
some of the characteristics which we are accus- 
tomed to associate with the notion of a sword. 

It is not our purpose, however, to trace its 
pedigree so far ; such a task would, moreover, 
require a more learned pen than ours. 

Without entering into great detail, we merely 
intend to give an account sufficient for the pur- 
pose of this work, of the manner in which the 
plain cross-hilted sword of the Middle Ages 
became converted into the small sword or the 
Fig. i37.-Germin Rapier, military sabre of the last century, according as its 
early seventeenth century.— purpose was that of duelling or of warfare. 
From Lacombe's "Armci et This double transformation took place during 
Armurea." tj^g sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth cen- 

turies, and consequently an examination of its 
phases will fitly conclude our retrospeiftive view of the fencing art during 
the same period, the more so as most of the changes observable resulted 


from the development of theories touching the management of point and 

Any genuine ancient sword, but especially a rapier of the sixteenth 
century, is invested with a wonderful interest in the eyes of a connoisseur — 
the more so, of course, if he be a fencer withal. Besides its beauty and 
pifturesqueness, it represents an amount of serious thought and ingenuity 
which in our days would be considered quite wasted on such an objeft. 
But this is merely because, and happily so, the age of the sword belongs to 
history, and is no longer ours. 

We boldly asserted in the Introduftion that we have sounder notions con- 
cerning the use of the sword now that it is to be looked upon as a pastime, 
and not as an accomplishment on which our very existence might at any 
moment depend, and we may pass a similar judgment on the swords which 
we could produce. 

The modern sword cutlers can construft marvellous blades, equal to 
almost any work, and though it is doubtful whether any modem blade would 
be actually superior to some of the finest " wolfs " or " Andrea Ferraras," 
there can be no doubt that equally perfeft ones can be manufaftured in our 
days whenever — and such cases are but rare — there is a demand for them. 

The sword is now a more or less useless appendage to the military 
accoutrement, and any decently solid weapon is quite equal to the work 
which, on very few occasions, it may be required to perform. Only a few 
of our warriors, who have had praftical experience in combats '* a Tarme 
blanche " against Asiatic swordsmen, take any special interest in their side 
arm, and they often solve the difficulty by inserting an authentic blade some 
three hundred years old, signed " Sahagum " or ** Ferrara," into a modem 
regulation hilt. The inferiority of modern blades results only from the 
modern indifference for such objefts. 

There is undoubtedly a great deal of glamour about an ancient sword : 
it has been pradically tested, and, if it belonged to some ancestor, the blood 
it has shed was, presumably, shed in an honourable cause ; it was the con- 
stant companion and support of its master — a friend always at his side when 
he walked or rode, who kept watch at the head of his bed at night, and 
rested behind his chair as he took his meals ; it was never chosen unless it 
felt in his hand like a part of himself, and was deemed incapable of turning 
traitor in the most desperate struggle. 

It is this faft, that every sword of value was always selefted or con- 
trived with the nicest care, and that it was then worth the maker's while to 
devote the whole of his knowledge and ingenuity to the fashion of any 
guard, the balance and degree of elasticity of a certain blade, that renders 
an old rapier of such value and interest to the connoisseur from a senti- 
mental as well as a technical point of view. 

G G 


In our days the armourer is represented by the gunmaker^ who turns 
all his powers of sagacity and invention to the boring of incredibly resisting 
gunbarrels and simplified safety locks ; there is little or no opening for his 
talent among the swords^ concerning the shapes of which inflexible ^^ regu- 
lation " would render his labours purposeless. 

Not so in the days of the Rapier ; every swordsman^ as he gathered expe- 
rience in the '^Steccata/' ^ the field, or the fence school, entertained some 
favourite notions concerning the details of what he considered a good guard, 
very important in his opinion, and it was the swordmaker's duty to appreciate 
and carry out these ideas. Thus he had to be swordsman as well as sword- 
maker, just as his successor the gunsmith has— or ought — ^to be conversant 
with the theories of ballistics and explosives, and, if possible, a praftical shof 

Hence the almost infinite variety of rapier guards, based, it is true, on 
some fundamental principles which varied only as the science offence changed 
its own. With certain restrictions we may draw comparisons between the 
complication of the guard and that of the play, although the one was not the 
direft necessary resiilt of the other. 

At the very earliest time when we hear of sword fencing as an art, the 
play, which consisted of a very reckless cutting and a good deal of '' natural 
fighting/' may be called simple. This was about the first years of the six- 
teenth century, and we know that the sword was then likewise comparatively 
simple. The guard in most common use consisted of plain quillons with or 
without rings or pas d'ane.' 

During the course of the sixteenth century the science of fence was 
assiduously cultivated in every country, and about the end of the same cen- 
tury it had become a very intricate one indeed, in which every movement of 
sword and body was analyzed, and, pari passUy during that period the sword 
guard developed into the complete rapier hilt. 

The seventeenth century saw a no less complete change of charader, 
both in the art and in the implement. The cut-and-thrust play became 
separated, and the fencer, discarding all. cutting adtion from his play as more 
brutal and less eflfeAive than the thrust, gradually reduced the lengthy and 
heavy rapier to the dimensions of the small sword. 

Compared to an Elizabethan rapier the small sword of Queen Anne's 
days is simplicity itself; the same comparison may be drawn between the 
evolutions of Carranza's pupils and the sober movements of the eighteenth 
century swordsman. 

* The SteccatS) " which is the place of combat," as Saviolo says in his second book, en- 
'treating of honour and honourable quarrels — the Italian term for the French ** champs clos," 
the lists. 

' Sec infra, p. 230. 

THE " sword;* ths " rapier;' and the ** small sword:' 227 

Many puzzling fafls have to be encountered, however, as soon-^ an 
attempt is made to classify the various forms of the sword according to the 
dates at which they were most in fashion : — ist, the fashions did not vary at 
the same rate in different countries ; * 2nd, they overlapped each other' in 
the same country ; 3rd, that the blades^ and not the hilts, are generally 
stamped in some way that can elucidate their date, whereas in most cases the 
hilty and not the blade, is the datum on which We must go to fix the prevalent 
taste — many good old blades being successively adapted to different hilts 
in accordance to the did^tes of fashion ; 4th, with reference to English and 
French swords especially, the best blades were imported from Spain, in 
Italy, and in Germany, and mounted according to the fashion of the owner's 

All this makes it difficult to fix the nationality of a sword, and, within 
any narrow margin of time, the date when any particular form was aftually 
wom^ as it may have been afFcAed by some old-fashioned gentleman at a 
time when his younger contemporaries looked upon it as altogether obsolete. 

However, if we allow a sufficient margin for the overlapping of fashions 
in swords, and if we only consider the question with reference to England 
and France, who always followed the same style of fencing, it is possible to 
divide the " modem history *' of the sword into four periods. 

For want of better terms we may call the first — belonging to the first 
half of the sixteenth century — as that of the *^ Sword," such being the word 
used by G. Silver on behalf of the English Masters of Defence who taught 
the use of the Sword^ not that of the outlandish Rapier. 

The next may be called that of the Rapier ; it covers the second half 
of the sixteenth century and the first quarter of the seventeenth. 

It is convenient to define a third period as " Transition," during which 
the rapier decidedly tended towards simplification, but had not yet assumed 
the perfedly definite shape which we call that of the Small Sword. It may 
be said to cover the second and third quarters of the seventeenth century. 

The last is that of the Small Sword, beginning in the reign of Charles II., 
and ending about the time of the French Revolution. 

The charafter of the sword changed but very little during the Middle 
Ages ; until the end of the fifteenth century its shape remained so simple, 

' For example, Italy and Spain, the latter especially, retained old-fashioned swords very 
much later than France and England. The modern Italian duelling sword to this day is 
exactly similar to some types of the transition swords. 

^ As examples, not very conclusive it is true, but interesting, we may point out that 
many masters represent in their plates a sword of a very much older charader than the kind 
commonly in use at the time when they taught fencing. This is the case with Viggiani, 
Meyer, Alfieri, Saviolo, and Saind Didier. Sutor, as well as Agrippa and Marozzo, represent 
a more or less conventional weapon of mediaeval charader. 


and is so familiar to everyone, that it would be useless to dwell on it.* 
It consisted, as a rule, of a broad, straight, double-edged blade, broad at its 
base and tapering towards its point, a plain grip ^ and cross hilt, and a more 
or less flat, disk-shaped pummel. It was essentially strong, stiff, and clumsy, 
and, although devised for cut and thrust, ill construded for either. For its 
effeftive use a strong arm was the chief requisite. Such was the sword 
which was to undergo such rapid changes during the sixteenth century. 

But before proceeding to analyze them, we may here dismiss with a 
cursory description some other varieties of swords used during the Middle 
Ages, and which seem to have disappeared almost completely after the 
Renascence period. * 

They had a separate and limited existence of their own, and although 
some of their charafteristics may have been, from time to time, superadded 
to those of the sword typical during its various transformations, individually 
they never formed part of the chain which we intend to examine link by 
link. The variety of these swords is very great, but we need only define 
the most commonly recurring names. 

The Esfoc of the Middle Ages' was in most cases a two-handed sword 
used only for the thrust. It had a very long, stiff blade, either three or 
four sided, and was the most favourite weapon for combats on foot in the lists* 

The Long Sword* (Claymore, Spadone, Espadon, Zweyhander, Flam- 
berge, &c.) was two-handed, used on foot and exclusively for cutting. 

' See Figs. 3, 5, 6, 7 (pp. 14 to 17) ; also Marozzo (Chap. II.); also^ Specimen No. i 
(Plate VI.). 

' A fashion prevailed in the fifteenth century of making the grip exceptionally long, in 
which case the sword, when used on foot, was wielded with both hands. This seems to 
have been especially the habit in Germany. See Fig. 3 (p. 14). 

^ See also p. 22, and note. 

* See Figs. 4 (p. 15), 9 (p. 18), 48 (p. 76). The word Schwerdt in Germany was 
restridled to the heavier kind of sword, such as was called Long Sword, or the old-fasbimed 
stvordy in England. It is needless to remark that Sword (or old English Swerd) and Schwerdt 
come from the same source. The Teutonic type of the word is Swerda^ *' the wounder, that 
which wounds," to which is conne£led the German Scbwer, painful (Skeat). 

Claymore is the English phonetic for two Keltic words, claidheamh-mor, signifying the 
Great Sword, The original Claymore was a two-handed sword of the largest type (see Specimen 
No. 2, Plate VI.). The basket-hilted sword of Italian origin— of which more will be said 
hereafter — which now bears that name, would, in the days of the real claymore, have been 
called a Clay beg, />., a small sword. 

Spadone and Espadon are the augmentatives of Spada and Espada, the Italian and the 
Spanish forms of the Latin Spatha, which was the name given by the Romans to the long and 
broad sword of the Gauls. Some etymologists derive the word Spatha from the Keltic Spad 
(from which comes our word Spade). Similarly, the Spanish for the Small Sword is Eipadin^ a 
diminutive of Espada. Zweyhander is of course the equivalent for two-banded sword. 

Flamberge was, according to Littre, one of the names attributed to Roland's sword. 
It seems to have originally been applied, in a slack manner, to any large sword, although more 



1. Sword.^ first years sixteenth century. Inside vieWj showing straight qui lions and 

pas Sane^ surmounted by half ring as a counter-guard^ the proje^ing ends of which are seen 
on the left side. Grooved, double-edged hladcy with plain ricasso. From the Simonetti Coll, 
Probably Italian, 

2. Swordy middle sixteenth century. Chased and inlaid with silver. Outside view ^ 

showing slightly counter-curved quillons^ with side ring and pas d^ane. Bi-convex blade^ 
with well-marked hollowed ricasso, 

3. Sword, same period. Outside view^ showing same elements as No, 2, and in addition 

a ring surmounting the pas (Tane^ a knuckle^bow, and a simple counter-guard joining pas d^ane 
to the latter. Grooved single-edged blade ^ with ** wolf^^ or ^^ fox *' mark, 

4. Sword or Rapier^ middle sixteenth century. Outside vieWj showing same elements 

as No. I, and, in addition^ ring on quUhnsj knuckle-bow, and conne^ing counter-guards. 
Grooved^ double-edged blade, 


5 andb are devised for the right handalone^ although the lengthened pummel admits of the 
use of the left also. 7 and 8, two-handed swords of moderate dimensions. 

5. Outside view, showing same elements as No, 3, but without knuckle-how. Grooved 

double-edged blade, with plain ricasso. 

6. Outside view, showing adaptation of a system of counter-guards belonging to the 

" Schiavona " type^ reaching short of the lengthened pummel so as to allow the occasional use 
of the left hand. Bevelled double-edged blade, with plain ricasso. 

7. Outside vieWy showing straight qui lions like the former, but with ring^ pas (Tdne^ 

and counter-guard coalescing into an irregular form. Grooved double-edged blade, with 
plain ricasso. 

8. Outside vieWy showing counter-curved quillons, forming an imperfe£l knuckle-bow, 

protecting the forward handy and coalescing pas d'ane and counter-guard. Flat blade ^ with 
strong ricasso. 

N.B. In all these guards the pas (fane is shown more or less distinSfly ; with all the 
lighter kinds of ^^ long swords** some fingers of the forward hand were crossed over the 


9. German Rapier^ middle sixteenth century. Outside view, showing quillons slightly 

counter-curved horizontally, with large ring, pasd^dne surmounted by ring, and two counter- 
guards joining pas d'dne to quillons. Grooved, double-edged blade j with plain ricasso. On 
the left side, and not visible^ is likewise a thumb ring. 

10. German Rapier^ middle sixteenth century. False edge view, showing in profile 

the rings on the quillons and on the pas d*dne, the counter-guards on the left side and the thumb 
ring i also the increased thickness of ricasso. 

rl. English Rapier, temp. Elizabeth, inlaid with gold and silver {hatched). Out- 
side view, showing counter-curved quillons {forming knuckle-bow), pas (fdne, and connecting 
counter-guards coalescing with side ring. Deep grooved double- edged blade ^ with hollowed 

12. English Rapier, temp. Elizabeth. {This may be looked upon as a ^^ conventional*^ 

type of bar rapier.) Outside view, showing straight quillons and knuckle-bow, large pas 
d'ane surmounted by ring on right side, and counter guard connecting the extremities of 
pas ctdne together, and to knuckle-bow {not to the quillons). Deep grooved blade^ with 
hollowed ricasso. 

I'LATE r. 




There were two kinds of single-handed short swords : the first con- 
sisted of those weapons with straight, double-edged blades — diminutives of 
swords or augmentatives of daggers — ^which were somewhat promiscuously 
called Braquemars, Malchus, Anelaces, Coustils a croc, Epees de Passot, 
Lansquenettes, &c. ; the other included all those with more or less curved 
blades, after the manner of Eastern weapons, such as Scymitars or Falchions, 
Cutlasses or Hangers, or Diisacken. * 

The complication which the sword guard ultimately attained is so great, 

generally redtri£ted to the so-called Swiss flamboyant or undulated swords. Later on, the 
term was applied, especially in England, to a peculiar form of the Rapier, of which we shall 
speak further on. In France Flamberge soon became a contemptuous term, like that of 

^ The name Braquemar has been applied to many different forms of swords, large or 
small, provided they had a broad blade. Du Cange notices the word under Braquemardus and 
Bragamardus. As the sword so called was most generally rather short than otherwise, some 
would derive its etymology from jSpa^vc fid^atpas short sword; but this is unlikely. It 
probably came from the word Braquet (Wallon), meaning a broad sword. We may here 
remark that the kind of cutlass which formed part of the accoutrement of the French soldier 
during the early years of this century, and was colloquially termed Briquety belongs to that 
class of weapon which would have been called a braquemar during the Middle Ages. 

Malchus was the name often given to a short, broad, and straight-bladed sword, synony- 
mous with Braquemar, in remembrance of Malchus, who had, according* to the Gospel, his 
ear cut off by St. Peter, presumably with an instrument of this kind. Specimen No. 4 (Plate 
VI.) is a Malchus or Braquemar. 

The name Anelace was given in England to a species of very broad daggers, similar to 
the classical parazonium or pugio — for they can hardly be called swords, their blades being 
generally only from eighteen to twenty inches in length — which were called on the Continent 
pistos, anelacio, epee de passot. They were often worn behind the back, handle inclining to 
the right. See Fig. 25 ^. 54). 

The sword specially affedted by the German mercenary foot soldiers in the fifteenth and 
sixteenth centuries was called Lansquenette, from Landsknecht, They had some well-marked 
peculiarities. The blade was very broad in comparison with its length, and double-edged. 
The hilt consisted generally of two rings, formed by the quillons curved as a figure 8. The 
grip was more or less conical, the broad base of the cone forming the pummel. See Fig. 53 
(p. 78). 

Curved sabres of the Scymitar type were much used during the Middle Ages, after the 
Crusades. The Falchion or Fauchon was a smaller type of scymitar in very common use. 
The name comes from the Latin Falx, through the Italian Falcione, meaning a scymitar, or the 
French Fauchon, diminutive of Faux, a scythe. The word Cutlass is derived from the French 
Couiely with the augmentative as, or ace, — Coutelas meaning a large knife. Similarly in Italian 
there is coltello^ colteilaccio, Coutelas was rendered in English Curtkaxe^ and in consequence 
its etymology is often supposed to be Coutel bacbcy or Coutel-axe^ and ultimately Cutlass, Florio 
gives : '' Colteilaccio, a cuttleax, a hanger." 

The Dusack is of Hungarian or Bohemian origin, but it soon was adopted throughout 
Germany by the middle and lower classes as an excellent weapon, very simple and inexpensive. 
It consisted of a single piece of iron, one part of which was fashioned as a cutlass blade, and 
another curved into a loop which formed a grip and knuckle-bow combined. The double 
curve which resulted from this arrangement was eminently favourable to cutting adlion. In 
Fig. 51 (p. 77) the upper sword is the true Dusack; the lower is an even simpler imitation. 


that, in the absence of universally received technical terms, it will be advisable, 
before proceeding further, to lay down some definitions, which, although 
they may differ from those sometimes adopted by writers on this subjeft, 
will no doubt be found useful in facilitating descriptions throughout this 

To begin with, it seems more natural, as the sword is of greatest interest 
when in the hand, to refer to the point as its highest, and to the pummel as 
its lowest part. Accordingly, although the reverse order is usually adopted, 
we shall always describe the sword as being point uppermost. 

The essential parts are the blade, the handle or grip, the guard (whether 
simple or complex), and the pummel ; none of these familiar terms require 
definitions, but it is otherwise with some parts of the guard and blade them- 
selves, many of which have had no absolutely definite technical names attached 
to them. 

The division of the blade into fori zndifoibky pointy false edge and right 
edge is sufliciently explicit, but it will be found convenient also, with reference 
to the guard, to establish some distinftion between the right and left of the 
hilt, which may be synonymously termed the outside and the inside. If we 
consider the sword as held in the right hand, arm extended and thumb upper- 
most, which is the most natural position, that termed by fencing-masters 
medium, we may broadly define as the outside (or the right side) of the 
guard, that part provided for the proteftion of the back of the hand, and as 
the inside (or left) of the guard, that provided for the inside of the hand.^ 

DiflFerent authors use the words guard and counter-guard^ in a very con- 
fusing manner, to distinguish the right and the left portion so defined ; others 
call counter-guard that part which proteAs the knuckles — the knuckle-bow, 
in facft. 

But the word counter-guard, the meaning of which is so definite among 
technical terms of fortification, might more fitly be applied, in a similar sense, 
to those superadded covering guards which occur in all complete swords. 

As the cross-hilt,^ accompanied or not by the pas d'ane and a separate 

^ Such a distindlion of course becomes nugatory in the case of perfe6lly symmetrical 
guards, as in some cup-hilted rapiers, flambergs, and small swords, but it is important in the 
consideration of the numerous unsym metrical shapes of the sword. 

To the fadl that the foundation of every hilt is a cross guard may be ascribed the 
formality of the " recover,** although this movement has now lost all meaning. There can be 
little doubt that this fashion of always bringing the hilt to the lips after drawing the sword 
originated in the habit of kissing the cross formed by blade and guard whenever the sword had 
to be unsheathed. 

Similarly, it must be supposed that the curious form of salute when '' marching past,** 
namely, that of drawing the hilt across the mouth and extending the arm towards the saluting 
point, is a remnant of the very ancient ceremony of wafting a kiss with the sword hand to the 
gallery of fair ladies, previously to taking part in the lists or tournaments. 


knuckle-bow — of which more presently — ^is the foundation of any hilt, how- 
ever complex, and must exist in all cases, however modified its strudhire, 
we shall in technical descriptions make the word guard apply to these only, 
reserving that of counter-guard to any defensive arrangement occurring over 
and above them. 

As has been seen, the guard of the typical mediaeval sword consisted 
merely of a pair of straight or only slightly curved quillons ^ — quillons being 
the name given to the branches of the cross hilt. 

Such a guard was eminently imperfeA, but was considered quite 
sufficient so long as little or no defensive aAion was expeAed from the sword 
(see p. 13, Chap. I.), and when steel gauntlets offered the necessary protedion 
to the han4. Towards the beginning of the sixteenth century, sword cutlers 
devised a somewhat improved hilt ; that period saw, as we know, the dawn 
of the modem art of fence. It was found that advantage would be derived 
from some arrangement which could prevent the adverse blade, when swords 
were clashed, from reaching the hand over the cross hilt, and thus do away 
with the paramount necessity of a gauntlet. For this purpose the side rings 
and the pas d'dne were invented. The side rings are clearly and typically 
shown in Fig. 8 (p. 1 8), and the pas d'ane, in its simplicity, in Fig. 42 (p. 67). 
The ring very often occurs singly, and in that case on the right side of the 

Pas d'ane was the name given in France towards the end of the sixteenth 
century to a pair of bars, each curved in the form of a loop, added im- 
mediately above the cross hilt, on each side of the blade. The meaning of 
the word is obscure, and unhappily we have no English equivalent Pas 
d'ane, according to Littre, is an instrument inserted into the mouth of a horse 
to keep it open for examination. Such an instrument may bear resemblance 
to our pair of loop guards, but the question is whether it was so called in the 
fifteenth century.* 

A suggestion — which must be taken only for what it is worth — ^might 
be made on this subjeA. This name may have been applied to these loops, 
placed very close to one another, on account of their resemblance to the close 
footprints of the ass ; such a simile would at least not be more far-fetched 
than the word " lunette " applied to the French foil guard. It may also have 

^ A French word, the diminutive of quille^ probably from the Latin cauUsy a stalk ; a 
cogener of our quill (Burton). 

' Although the pas d'^ne and the ring, as adjun6ts to the hilt, did not come into regular 
fashion earlier than the sixteenth century, there are several instances to show that they 
existed as early as the fourteenth century. Demmin mentions a mural painting, dating about 
the end of the fourteenth century, in the Cathedral of Mondoneda, representing the Massacre 
of the Innocents, in which some soldiers carry swords with unmistakable pas d'Ine hilts. 
Swords with pas d'ane and rings are shown in some frescoes dating from the end of the 
fifteenth century in San Gimigniano, near Sienna. 



1 . Italian Rapier y third quarter sixteenth century. Outside view, showing counter- 
curved quillons and inucile-bow, pas d'dne surmounted by two rings solidified into shells^ and 
connected with knuckle-bow by counter-guards. Double-edged blade, grooved at base, with 
slightly hollowed ricasso, inscribed Antonio Pichinio. 

2. German Rapier, third quarter sixteenth century. Outside view, showing counter-- 

curved quillons^ knuckle-bow^ and combined shell and bar hilt. Grooved^ double-edged blade. 

3. English Rapier, Elizabethan. Straight quillons, same type as No. 2. Grooved 

blade, with obtuse edges and strong ricasso. 

^4. English Rapiery Elizabethan. Same type as No. 2. Grooved double-edged blade 

by Andrea Ferrara. 


5. English Rapiers, last quarter sixteenth century. Outside view, showing straight 

quillons, knuckle-bow, pas d^dne surmounted by symmetrical shells and joined to knuckle-bow by 
connecting counter-guards. Double-edged blade, with squared ricasso. 

6. English Rapier, Elizabethan^ with openwork cup hilt, straight quillons.^ and 

knuckle-bow. Diamond sectioned blade, 

7. English Rapier of the same type as No. 6, but with count er-curved quillons. Bi- 
convex blade, grooved at the base. Inscribed on the inside : For my Christ resolved to dy ; 
on the outside, Vho haves me let him wareme (haves, engraver* 5 mistake for hates). 
8. Italian Rapier ^ close of sixteenth century ^ with deep cup hilt, the edge open- 
worked and coalescing with knuckle-bow, straight quillons {one broken off, the other bent). 
Grooved blade. 

-g. Venetian Broadsword, middle sixteenth century. Outside view, showing quillons 

slightly incurved on the blade, pas d*dne, and knuckle-bow ; all these parts joined together by 
elaborate counter-guards on both sides. Bi-conv'ex blade^ with strong ricasso. This is an 
early specimen of the type ** Schiavona. " 

10. Spanish basket-hilted Broadsword, middle sixteenth century. Outside view, 

showing another combination of guards and counter-guards* Pas d'dne on right edge side 
only, separated from the blade and coalescing with counter-guards. Bi-convex blade, grooved 
at base. Inscribed Sahagom {jflonzo de Sahagom, Toledo). 

II. Italian basket-hilted Broadsword, last quarter sixteenth century y of the type 

commonly known as *' Claymore,'/ shoiving the full development of basket hilty the stunted 
quillons expanding into a sort of plate, the diminished pas d*dne diverted from its original 
purpose^ and the counter-guards tastefully and fantastically interlaced. Bevelled blade^ 
inscribed Andrea Ferrara between eight crowned heads. 

12. Italian basket-hilted Broadsword^ last quarter sixteenth century^ with 

exceptionally large counter-guards for protection of the wrist ^ and a remarkably broad blade, 
grooved, double-edged, marked in Gothic letters ail. The blade is probably much anterior 
in date to the hilt. 

N.B. All these basket-hilted swords were originally devised chiefly for the use of 


of counter-guards) is well depifted in the sword worn by Girard Thibaust 
(p. 120), also in Specimens Nos. 2 and 3 (Plate I.). 

When a ring occurs, on both sides of the sword, in conjunftion with the 
quillons, similar ones, or one encompassing the blade, are often placed between 
the extremities of the pas d'ane. See Zacharias sword. Fig. 81 (p. 128). 

With regard to the quillons, it was obvious that with slight alteration 
they might be made to proted: the hand very much more than they did in 
their straight condition. Accordingly, one branch was soon curved towards 
the pummel so as to proteft the knuckles, and in such a case, for the sake 
of symmetry, the other branch was turned similarly towards the point.* So 
that we may add to any of the three simplest systems of defence the Knuckle- 
bow^ approximating more or less to the pummel. It may be well to remark 
here that it is only at a comparatively late period that this guard was made 
to unite with the pummel. 

Now it will be found, on inspeftion of any carefully arranged colleAion 
of swords, that the shape of the hilt at all periods since the fifteenth century 
has depended on the modification of these elements, their connexion by more 
or less complicated systems of bars and counter-guards, and their partial 
solidification into shells or cups. 

In early days, as we have said, the point was but little used, and most 
cuts were delivered in pronation, so that, as the back of the hand was most 
exposed, the simplest form of guard commonly used, which consisted gene- 
rally of a ring on the outside (right side) and pas d'ane, was fairly sufficient 
proteftion, especially when a branch of the quillons was contrived so as to 
form a knuckle-bow. 

But as the fencing art became developed, upward cuts, and thrusts in 
supination came into common praftice, and, accordingly, the sword cutlers 
devised some further proteftion for the inside of the hand and of the wrist so 
exposed; the extremities of the pas d'ane were connefted on the inside to 
the extremity of the knuckle guard by means of curved bars, more or less 
complicated and graceful, according to the good taste or fancy of the owner. 
For the sake of additional protedlion, similar bars were likewise added to the 

Against a thrusting play the value of lengthened straight quillons was 
very soon appreciated, but the curved branch being equally valuable as a 
knuckle-bow, the latter was often retained in this capacity, new quillons of 
very much increased length being superadded to the diflFerentiated ones. 

This stage bf complication having been reached, we have one type of 
the most usual rapier guards. 

The habit of crossing the fingers round the base of the blade— through 

^ This is shown in Saviolo's plates, although Saviolo instru^ed his pupils in the use of a 
very much more complicated sword. 

H H 


the pas d'ane, over the quillons — soon suggested the advantage of screening 
the hand as much as possible under the counter-guard. Accordingly, in a 
great number of rapiers, especially those of the latter Elizabethan period, 
the grip is reduced to very diminutive dimensions, being devised, in fa(5l, to 
rest against the palm, and only held by the third and fourth fingers, the 
sword being firmly secured in the hand by the quillons. 

Before examining the charafter of the cup and shell hilts, it may be well 
to recapitulate the parts which composed what may be called the " conven- 
tional" hilt of the sixteenth century rapier. 

Guards : quillons, pas d'ane, knuckle-bow — the latter, however, is not 
so universal as the two former. 

Counter-guards : ring on the quillons (on each side or only on the right, 
or outside of the sword), smaller rings on the pas d'ane (again on one side 
or on both), connefting bars, joining the various parts (similarly on one or 
both sides). 

So much fantasy was displayed in the invention of ornamental hilts of 
this type that it would be impossible to attempt a classification of their 
different varieties. But the foundation of such guards will generally be found 
to be that which has just been sketched, if we remember that in such a system, 
with so many faftors, and with the possibility of doubling or trebling the 
number of connefting bars, and interlacing them, the result of their permu- 
tations and combinations must necessarily be the produftion of an almost in- 
finite variety of shapes. 

German swordsmen seem to have had a particular fancy for using the 
thumb, instead of the index, for the purpose of securing the sword,* and 
although the pas d'ane occurs in their swords, a special thumb ring is very 
often added below the quillons ; it is possible, however, that they used both 
thumb ring and pas d'ane at once. 

From the immense variety of shape and position in which these thumb 
rings are found, we are to judge that in most cases the sword was ** built " 
under the immediate supervision of its intended owner. 

The change in the charafter of the blade is much more easily explained 
than that of the guard. During the transformation of the Sword into the 
Rapier,* improvement was always sought in alterations which would facilitate 
the delivery of time hits and add greater eflficacy to the thrust, without, how- 
ever, preventing the use of the cut. With these objefts in view the blade 

* See, for instance. Fig. 12 (p. 30). 

' Sec pp. 19 to 22. The etymology of the word Rapier is obscure. Some derive it 
from the Germjn rappen, or r/iffen, to tear out. Others conneft it, through raspiere, to the 
Spanish raspary to scrape or scratch. Mcrcutio, stabbed with a rapier, exclaims about "a cat, 
a dog, a rat, to scratch a man to death.'* Others, again, will see in it a derivation of 
pairiQy a rod. 


was gradually made to assume slenderer proportions and ultimately increased 
also enormously in length. Nos. 7 and 9, Plate VL, show to what an extent 
this increase could be pushed, if we compare the length of the blade to that 
of No. I, which belongs to the early part of the century, or even to that 
of the huge Zweyhander, No. 5.^ 

The rigidity of such lengthened blades was preserved and their weight 
diminished by grooving and flutings. They often were even pierced with 
open work, as is shown by many fine old Spanish blades ; this fluting never 
extended higher than the third quarter of the blade, nearest the point, 
where it had to be preserved flat for the purpose of retaining trenchant 

The part enclosed between the pas d'ane is usually blunted and often 
squared, or hollowed (in the case of broad blades), for the purpose, in some 
cases of strengthening the base, in others, of facilitating the closing of the 
fingers through the loops or under the cup guard. 

We have adopted the French word pas d'ane, and we may as well 
likewise, for want of a better, adopt the Italian word " ricasso," used to 
designate that part of the blade between the cup guard and the quillons of 
the Italian foils and duelling swords. 

This hollowing out and squaring of the blade at its base — the " ricasso," 
in fad — is well shown in Fig. 24 (p. S3)' 

The ricasso is an almost constant feature of the rapier blade, although 
in such swords, where the blade was particularly narrow, such a contrivance 
was of course not resorted to. 

We saw that towards the very end of the sixteenth century the best 
masters, although professing the cut-and-thrustplay, were strongly prejudiced 
in favour of the thrust alone. Accordingly, some swordsmen preferred ex- 
cessively slender blades all but devoid of cutting edges, with a lozenge-shaped 
sedion and often nearly square ; the length of such blades could also be 
immensely increased without detriment to their rigidity or too great an in- 
crease of weight. 

These swords, which were called Verduns in France, from the town in 
which they were mostly made, were only used for duelling purposes ; they 
were generally owned in pairs, with daggers to match. They were so 
inconveniently long that the swaggering duellists had them carried by a 
footman behind them. 

Later on, the outrageous dimensions of such swords were much reduced. 
We have seen with what disfavour these " tucks," fit only for the thrust, 

^ This excessive length, which modern fencers would deem most disadvantageous^ was 
not then considered a drawback, as the movements of the sword were by no means rapid, 
being supplemented by a great many displacements of the body. Fabris* system is typical 
of this style of fencing. 


were looked upon in England.^ Those swordsmen who indulged in the 
double rapier-play generally carried twin swords in the same scabbard ; 
each sword was flattened on the inside, but as they were held in the right 
and left hands they were naturally provided with outside guards. A set of 
this kind was termed a case of rapiers. 

The prismatic shape of the blade was retained in many duelling swords 
until towards the middle of the seventeenth century, when it was gradually 
abandoned in favour of the still more deadly and lighter three-cornered 
fluted blade. The most usual blade, however, remained until the middle 
of the seventeenth century one of the double-edged type. 

We may now consider the development of cup and shell hilts. No 
doubt cup hilts, especially in Italy and Spain, were contemporary with 
compHcated bar guards, and about the end of the sixteenth century it was 
merely a matter of taste whether to adopt a plain cup hilt of the usual 
Spanish type, or some pifturesque arrangement of bars, of which there was 
such unlimited choice ; but the earliest cup hilt is posterior to the first sword 
that was improved by the addition of a counter-guard. 

We may briefly define the usual cup hilt as consisting of quillons, with 
or without knuckle-guards, pas d'ane, and, as a covering counter-guard, a 
cup, either hemispherical or approximating to that shape. 

We have seen how commonly the small target — " brochiero " or 
** broquel " — was used, especially during the first half of the sixteenth cen- 
tury ; the idea may have easily occurred to some ingenious maker to adapt 
a cup over the quillons which would a<ft as a small brochiero in the right 
hand, whilst the left could then remain free to use the dagger. If we 
remember that the broquel or target was always held at arm's length, the 
idea that the cup hilt might perform a similar office was very plausible. The 
earliest cup-hilted rapier seems to have come from Spain. In Spain, also, 
the idea of adapting a similar arrangement on to the dagger was first 
originated. On the latter, however, this modified broquel* was so adapted 
as still to aft as target when held in the corred manner. (See daggers in 
Group I., Plate III.) 

It is just possible, also, that the invention of this particular form of 
" main gauche " was suggested by someone who had attempted to hold both 
a dagger and target together in his left hand, and conceived the praftical 
notion of combining the two, or it may be a modification of the Moorish 
Adarga — the spear and hand buckler combined. All these are, of course, 
mere theories. 

' It seems difficult to explain how the meaning of the word Estoc, or rather " Estocade," 
as it was called in Saindl Didier's time, should have been so much altered. When the sword 
was specified as "Esiocade," it meant that it was specially for cut and thrust, and not a weapon 
of the Verdun type. ^ gee Specimens, Plate III. and Plate VI. 



1, English Rapier {hatched)^la5t quarter sixteenth century. Outside view ^ showing 

counter-curved qui lions and knuckle-boWjpas d'dne and symmetrical shells conneHedby counter^ 
guards to knuckle-bow. Grooved blade^ double-edged^ with slightly hollowed ricasso. 

2. Italian Rapier^ close of sixteenth century. Outside view, showing sMl hilt of the 

type conventionally called ^^ ringed guard^^ in outline that of a deep cup hiltj but formed of 
numerous andj so to speak^ concentric rings^ usually seven in number^ the last of which is 
joined to the knuckle-bow. Grooved^ double-edged blade^ with strong ricasso. 

3. Rapier y close of sixteenth century. Inside view^ showing counter-curved quillons^ 

knuckle-bow y and pas adne surmounted by rings and a shelly connected by counter-guards to 
the knuckle-bow. Double-edged blade, with hollowed ricasso, 

\, German Rapier ^ early seventeenth century. Inside vieWy showing counter-curved 

quillonsy knuckle-boWy pas d'dne and shells connected by fantastic counter-guards to knuckle- 
bow. Grooved bladcy with plain ricasso. 

5. German Rapier. Inside vieWy showing counter- curved quillons and knuckle-bow, 

pas d*dne and large shell (the opposite shelly not visibUy is much smaller) connected to knuckle- 
bow by slender counter-guards. Double-edged blade. 

N.B. This form is unusual; as a rulcy the larger shell occurs on the right or outside 
of the sword ; possibly this may have been devised for the left hand, 


6. Spanish Rapiery close of sixteenth century. Outside vieWy showing long straight 

quillonsy knuckle-boWy and pas {fdncy covered by two large symmetrical shellsy conneSIed to 
knuckle-bow by counter-guards. Double-edged blade by Juan Martin, Toledo, 

7. Spanish Rapiery early seventeenth century. Outside vieWy shewing same elements 

as No. 6. Grooved blade by Tomas Ayala of Toledo, 

8. German Rapiery early seventeenth century. Outside vieWy showing counter-curved 

quillons and large shell covering pas d*dne (shell inscription^ Melrois), and knuckle-bow. 
Flamboyant blade inscribed Clemens Kirschbaum in Sohlingen. 

9. Spanish Rapiery early seventeenth century. Outside vieWy showing straight 

quillons, pas d*dne and plain cup. Knuckle-bow, starting from the cup edge instead of from 
the quillons, is unusual, S lender y diamond-seSlioned hladcy of Verdun type, 

10. English Musketeer's Swordy early seventeenth century. Outside view, showing 

counter-curved quillons y on branch forming a knuckle-bow y and side ring. This specimen is 
here introduced to show how some very early fortns of guards remained in use whenever 
simplicity was a requisite. 


II. German Rapier of Flamberg type y close of sixteenth century, showing incurved 

quillonsy pas d*dney and shells only. Long grooved blade with ricassoy inscribed Clemes 

12. German Flamberg, early seventeenth century. Long quillons, wide pas^ d*dne, 

large fat shells. Grooved blade with ricasso, inscribed Clemens Potter ihn Scolingen. 

13. German Flamberg, middle seventeenth century. Same elements as in No. I2, 

but of smaller and more elegant dimensions. Grooved bladcy inscribed Peter Wundes ihii 

14. Flambergy middle seventeenth century y showing pas ctdne and shell, without 

quillons. Bevelled blade y inscribed Sahagum. 



The cup hilt, which is undoubtedly a more perfeft form of guard for 
a thrusting sword, may also have been gradually suggested by the ** solidifi- 
cation," so to speak, of various parts of the counter-guard, such as the sub- 
stitution of shell-shaped solid pieces to the original rings. 

Indeed, there are numerous specimens in which, for instance, the rings 
which were originally added to the extremities of the pas d'ane are partly or 
wholly replaced by shells. When these shells assume sufficient dimensions, 
so as to constitute the principal part of the counter-guard, we may call the 
sword a shell-gxxzxd rapier. 

Complete cup hilts are pretty uniform in their charafter, but there is an 
immense variety of hilts consisting partly of a cup or of shells and partly of 
bars. Some specimens which have the outline of a cup hilt are so pierced 
and hollowed out as to appear to be made up of bars ; others consist of 
very large shells conneded by slender additional counter-guards. 

A hilt consisting of both shells and bars could obviously be much 
simplified by the substitution of a simple cup to the whole. This may also 
be the origin of the cup hilt. 

A cup hilt is undoubtedly, in the opinion of modern swordsmen, a 
more perfeft fencing implement than the most elaborate bar hilt, which must 
necessarily often have entangled the adversary's sword in an unforeseen 
manner. Many sixteenth century swordsmen, however, preferred them, 
relying probably, in such cases, on superior strength for mastering the adverse 
blade; but unless they succeeded in snapping it, they, as well as their 
adversaries, must necessarily have been deprived as well of offensive power. 
Then, no doubt, the dagger came into aftion.^ 

The acme of complication in the hilt and of exaggerated length in the 
blade seems to have been reached in the last years of the sixteenth century. 
From that time until now the tendency of all swordmakers has been rather 
to reduce the dimensions and simplify the guard of the rapier. 

About that time there came in fashion a very much simpler rapier, 
which, in most colledions, is classed under the head Flamberg. The special 
charader of this so-called Flamberg is the comparative simplicity of the hilt, 
which consists merely of quillons without knuckle-bow or pas d'ane, covered 
by a very shallow cup of moderate dimensions ; the blade is usually slenderer 
than the ordinary rapier of the same period. This kind of sword, which, 
by the way, could be readily passed from the right to the left hand, according 
to the teaching of some masters, when the sword alone was used, came 
gradually into great favour among expert fencers of the seventeenth century 

* With our method of fencing such an entanglement would occur constantly, but we 
know that the rapier fence was by no means a close one, and the obje6l of these hilts was 
rather to screen the hand from an accidental cut than from a thrust. 


on account of its comparative lightness. We may look upon the Flamberg 
as the first step in the transition of the Rapier to the Small Sword. 

The etymology of the word is as obscure as that of Rapier. The name 
Flamberg was originally applied to all swords with the fanciful wavy blade, 
although by some writers it is restrifted to the flamboyant Spadone or 

In French the word flamberge, which at first was a common synonym 
for sword,^ very soon became, like that of rapier, a more or less contemptuous 
term. This species of sword, however obscure the origin of its name, is 
perfeftly definite (see Plate III., Group III.). 

The Flamberg was probably at first most commonly used in Germany, 
where the art of fencing with either hand, when the rapier was used alone, seems 
to have been more aftively cultivated than elsewhere, and where rapiers without 
knuckle-bows are of commoner occurrence than in other countries. But the 
Flamberg type very soon spread abroad, especially in France and in England. 

The seventeenth century — during the first half of which was accentuated 
the distinftion between the military weapon, or sabre, and the walking sword, 
rapier, or small sword — is essentially the age of transition. 

The simplification of the rapier consisted in the almost universal adoption 
of the cup or shell hilt, the gradual reduAion of its dimensions, and the elimi- 
nation of complicated counter-guards. It is observable that about the middle 
of the century the cup hilt becomes very shallow, and in the shell hilt the 
shells open out more and more. The simplest form of the transition rapier 
may be described as consisting of quillons, knuckle-bow, and pas d'ane, 
surmounted by either a shallow cup or two plain shells. In faA, there is 
very little to distinguish it from the small-sword guard except its larger 
dimensions. The length of the blade varies between thirty-two and forty 
inches, although there are still examples of excessively long blades belonging 
to such hilts. When this type of simplicity is reached, the only diflference 
between the flamberg and the transition rapier thus described is the absence 
of knuckle-bow in the former. 

About the period of the Restoration the triangular fluted blade came 
into fashion in England, having apparently been first adopted by the French 
between the years 1650 and 1660.* 

The French were, as we know, the first to absolutely discard all cutting 
from their rapier fencing, and were, in consequence, the first to adopt the 
lightest form of blade as the best suited for purely thrusting play.^ 

^ " Mettre Flamberge au vent'' was a usual expression for drawing the sword. 

' Of coulee triangular blades had been known and used long before that date^ but their 
general zdio^tion can hardly be admitted as previous to 1650. 

' It is difficult to find out from Liancour whether he always dealt with a three-cornered 
blade, but Labat and his successors undoubtedly did. 


It is a triangular blade united to a very simple hilt which constitutes the 
Small Sword^ that is, one which can only be used for thrusting and whose 
superiority depends on its lightness. In Spain and Italy, and to a lesser 
degree in Germany, the old-fashioned cup or shell hilt and the flat double- 
edged blade were retained for more than a century later. 

The small sword was essentially a French weapon, and wherever it was 
worn small-sword fencing was taught by French masters. We have 
observed what an objeftion they offered to the utilization of the pas d'ane 
for the purpose of securing the sword in the Italian and Spanish style, but 
nevertheless, in all French flambergs, flat-bladed "transition" rapiers, or 
three-cornered small swords, the pas d'ane are retained in all their integrity. 

In Germany, however, the old Italian habit of passing the forefinger 
through the loop was adhered to until a much later period, and likewise 
apparently in England, for we find Sir William Hope inveighing most 
strenuously against this praftice. 

The conventional shape of the small-sword hilt remained essentially the 
same from the days of the Restoration until its disappearance towards the 
end of the eighteenth century, and always consisted of quillons and knuckle- 
bow, pas d'ane and a double shell (or, more rarely, a single plate); but 
during the course of the eighteenth century, and as the original use of the 
loops fell more into oblivion, the pas d'ane was flattened more and more, 
until, in some late specimens, they became quite rudimentary. As this 
change occurred, the sword itself was gradually attenuated, until it became 
the feather-weight weapon of which our modern Court-sword is a fair 
representative. This excessive reduftion in the weight of the triangular 
blade seems to have taken place in two stages. The blade of the small 
sword worn during the last part of the seventeenth century, although very 
much lighter than the double-edged rapier blade, was still comparatively heavy 
about the point. Between the years 1680 and 1690 came into fashion, at 
first in France, and then in Germany and England, the type of blade known 
as " Colichemarde " — a very bad phonetic rendering, coined by the French, 
of Konigsmark, the name of the Swedish Count who passes for its inventor.* 

The charafteristic of the Colichemarde blade is the very great breadth 
of the fort, as compared with that of the faible. The change is very abrupt ; 
the blade, which is stiffs and broad in the portion nearer the hilt, suddenly 
becoming excessively slender about the region of the half weak. (This 
shape is particularly well shown in Specimen 23, Plate VI.) 

This pronounced diflFerence facilitated the rapid management of the 

* A celebrated soldier of fortune, who served with distinction in Germany and in France 
(Louis XIV. made him Marshal of France). Konigsmark came in 166 1 to the English Court 
as ambassador from Sweden to Charles II. He died in 1686, in the service of the Republic 
of Venice. 


point to an extraordinary extent, without weakening the sword at the fort, 
with which all parries are made ; so that pradically the blade remained as 
strong as ever. This form of blade was eminently favourable to methodical 
fencing, and this is one of the rare instances in which the form of the weapon 
was not the result of the development of the theory, but one in which the 
invention of a new shape ultimately altered the whole system. 

Soon after its coming into general use we begin to hear of the free use 
of the ** cut over the point," of multiple feints, and of what especially con- 
stituted the essence of small-sword or French fencing, in contradistinftion to 
rapier-play, namely, circular parries (contre-degagements) in the four lines. 

This highly perfeA form of blade was used between the years 1685 
and 1720, and then seems very suddenly to have gone out of fashion, being 
replaced again by one which tapered very uniformly from the base to the 

But the advantages of an exceedingly light point were too important to 
be neglefted, and accordingly the whole blade was made very slender. Its 
charader has hardly varied since. 

When the French masters began to discourage the habit of holding the 
sword through the loop of the pas d'ane, they soon perceived the advan- 
tage of "setting the blade in quarte,"* and in most books of fence rules 
for performing this operation are given among those for "choosing and 
mounting a blade." 

About the time when the charafteristics of what we call a rapier began 
to assert themselves, the sword, for warlike purposes, became also differentiated 
in another branch. 

Although the narrow-bladed rapier was often used for military purposes, 
it was more generally worn as a " walking " sword — an attendant companion 
in case of the emergency either of a duel or of a sudden affray. As a 
military weapon the JroaJ sword was retained in common use, and from the 
very first years of the sixteenth century — when, as we saw, the gentleman's 
sword began to show a tendency to assume the rapier type — the military 
sword had its guard improved by a system of counter-guards from which 
was very soon evolved the conventional " basket " hilt. The Italian basket- 
hilted broadsword assumed very early the shape retained until now by such 
weapons. One feels, however, inclined at first to ascribe quite a modern 
date to many swords of a model hardly distinguishable from our modern 
military claymore, which were used by horsemen in Italy and Germany as 
early as the middle of the sixteenth century. 

1 The reason why this slight inclination of the blade to the left is hardly ever noticeable 
in small swords belonging to coUedlions is that it was probably taken for an accidental defed 
by their owners, and in consequence redlified. 



I, 2, Early sixteenth century; 3, Forced; 4/5, 13, 15, 16, Cross-hi/ted, sixteenth 
century ; 8, lO, 14, Seventeenth century ; 9, Anelace ; 6, 12, 7, 1 1, Shell Daggers ^ out side 
and' inside views. 


1. Italian Broadsword^ first years seventeenth century. Outside vieWy showing 

counter-curved quilhns^ knuckle-bow^ large shell on the quillons connected with the knuckle^ 
bow, Tlje pas (fane are more or less obliterated and useless^ except as a kind of counter-guard. 
On the left side is a thumb ringj not visible here. Grooved flat blade ^ double-edged^ with 
strong ricasso, 

2. Spanish Broadsword^ early seventeenth century. Outside view, showing counter- 
curved quillons and knuckle-bow ^ pas (Pane surmounted by unequal shells {larger one shown). 
Bevelled blade^ with hollowed ricasso, 

3. Cavalry Sword^ temp. Commonwealth. [Swords of this type are often called 

*' Mortuary ^^ as a number of them were made in memory of Charles 1.,^ and bear his likeness 
upon the hilt,) Outside vieWy showing later shape of basket hilty in which the quillons 
have expanded into a sort of plate and coalesced with the knuckle-bow^ being connected on 
both sides by means of counter-guards with the bow itself and the pummel. Bevelled blade^ 
by Andrea Ferrara. 

4 and 5. Swords of the same type as No. 3, showing same elements differently conneSfed; 

4 has a single-edged grooved blade inscribed Solinger ; 5 has a double-edged blade ^ remark^ 
able for bearing an English inscription [a rare occurrence) y loannes Hoppie Fecit, 

6. German Broadsword, middle seventeenth century. Outside view ^ showing counter- 

curved quillons^ knuckle-bow^ outside shell on the quillons surrounded by other counter-guards 
conned ing quillons to knuckle-bow, Thumb-ringj not visible^ on the inside. 


7. German Rapier^ second quarter seventeenth century. Outside view^ showing 

counter-curved quillons and knuckle-bow^ pas d^dney surmounted by shallow cupy conneSfed by 
counter-guards to knuckle-bow. Double-edged blade^ with blunted ricasso^ inscribed Peter 

8. Italian Rapier^ middle seventeenth century. Outside vieWy showing incurved 

quillons and knuckle-bow supporting a shallow cupy which coalesces with counter-guards and 
knuckle-bow. Double-edged grooved, bladcj with strong ricasso, 

9, Transition Rapier^ middle seventeenth century. Outside vieWy showing quillons 

and knuckle-bow coalescedy and wide pas fT dne supporting symmetrical flattened shells. Long 
grooved blunt-edged Spanish bladcy with squared ricasso y inscribed Tomas Ayala en Toledo. 

1 0. French Rapier, middle seventeenth century. Outside vieWy showing counter-curved 

quillons and knuckle-bow, pas Sdne and shallow shellsy side ring, and small conne^fing 
counter-guard. Grooved bladcy with hollowed ricassoy inscribed En Toledo. 



A critical examination of the earliest obtainable specimens of such 
swords warrants the assertion that the basket shape was produced by the 
same kind of process as the complicated rapier hilt, namely, by the addition 
of counter-guard to the original cross hilt and pas d'ane. 

There are two distinft forms of basket hilt : the Schiavona type and 
the Claymore type, since we must use that inappropriate name. (In Plate 
VI., Specimens Nos. 1 3 to 1 6 belong to the former, and Nos. 1 8 and 20 to 
the latter.) The Schiavona is certainly an earlier type than the Claymore, 
although at a later period they were used contemporaneously. It is easy to 
imagine how much simpler it must have been to devise a guard for the hand 
in the case of a military weapon, where a certain amount of clumsiness was 
a very small drawback in comparison with the increased value resulting 
from a strong guard. For a " walking " sword a great many fadlors had 
to be taken into consideration which could be neglefted in the horseman's 

The earliest specimens of Schiavone show most distinftly quillons, pas 
d'ane, and superadded counter-guards. (See Specimen, No. 9, Plate II.) 
As the purpose of the sword was for hacking, there was no necessity for 
limiting the number of counter-guards in order to allow a free play of the 
wrist, and accordingly, from the very first, we see connefting bars joining 
the pas d'ane to the pummel, not only along the knuckle-bow, but to the 
right and left of the sword, leaving an opening only sufficiently large to 
allow the insertion of the hand. These bars are likewise conneded with 
each other in many different and artistic fashions, and thus the basket hilt is 

" Cup " and " basket " hilts are often used by different authors as inter- 
changeable terms ; it is necessary, however, to restrift the meaning of each, 
and the distinftion is very simple : the cup hilt has its opening towards the 
pummel, and belongs to the rapier class ; the basket hilt opens at the side, 
and belongs to that of the broadsword. 

As very little thrusting was ever performed with these basket-hilted 
swords, the utility of the quillons and the pas d'ane was not very obvious ; 
and accordingly, in later specimens, they first of all diminished greatly in 
importance, then the pas d'ane, having first separated themselves from the 
blade, still clinging to portions of their connecting counter-guards, ultimately 
lost almost all their original charafter. (See Plate II., Group III.) 

The ear-like projedtions which remain on the right edge side of the 
basket-hilted modern claymore show the last of their existence. They were 
retained, and even now form part of the regulation claymore, on account of 
their utility in stopping the adverse blade from slipping on to the arm. 

Most basket hilts were provided with a thumb ring which helped, instead 
of the obliterated pas d'ane, to secure a firm hold of the grip. The quillons 

I I 


ultimately broadened into the solid plate which forms the principal guard of 
a broadsword. 

The Schiavonawas essentially the arm of the "Schiavoni," who formed 
the body-guard of the Doges, but swords of similar form were also affefted 
by many other troops, especially by German " Reiters." The Schiavona, 
however elegant its shape, was not the best kind of basket- hiked sword, and 
the " claymore " hilt was soon after invented. There are also many shapes 
intermediate between the two. 

Such swords were generally used by horsemen, but often also as broad- 
swords on foot. 

Marozzo's system of fencing, dealing as it did so much with the cut 
and so little with the point, was well suited for this weapon.* 

The most common forms belong to the *' shearing" or double-edged 
straight type, but many specimens are found single-edged, or "back 
sword " blades, generally straight, but sometimes very slightly curved. We 
must not forget that a very good blade may have been inserted into many 
different kinds of hilts. This explains the apparently very early date of 
some swords of this kind, in which we may presume the blade is very much 
older than the hilt. 

The basket hilt seems only to have become common in this country 
during the very last years of the sixteenth century. It was first adopted in 
Scotland as a convenient guard for the broadsword, and very soon became 
so popular that it was almost exclusively used for all single-handed weapons, 
and the basket-hilted broadsword has remained ever since the national arm 
of the Scots. The fierce charges of the Highlanders in many bloody battles 
during the Middle Ages had made the English well acquainted with the 
word " claymore.*' When the mighty two-handed claymore went out of use, 
being gradually superseded by the basket-hilted weapon, the old name, 
as conveying the idea of the Highlander's sword, was preserved, owing to 
long habit, notwithstanding its inappropriateness. 

In England, for all kinds of broadswords a simpler form of guard was 
long adhered to, composed merely of quillons and rings, but about the 
middle of the seventeenth century the Scotch basket hilt was very exten- 
sively used, especially by horsemen. Oliver Cromwell's own sword was one 
of that description. 

But another shape remained contemporaneously in favour, in which the 
side rings, with part of the cross hilt, were solidified into solid shells, the 
knuckle-bow being retained, and a thumb ring added under the guard, by 
which the sword could be firmly gripped in the absence of pas d'ane. This 
form was much aflPefted by the Roundheads. 

^ The sword shown in Viggiani's ** prima guardia," Fig. 34, is one approximating to the 
Schiavona type. 


There were two kinds of blades used with these hilts, the '* shearing," 
double-edged blade (this was the name then given to a lighter and more 
flexible form of the traditional double-edged type), and the " back sword " 
or single-edged blade. The latter was merely a development of the cutlass, 
as they were of similar shapes, and both connefted with the ** falchion " and 
the " scymitar." The curvature of the sword was merely diminished for 
the sake of better balance. Back and shearing swords were, as we saw, the 
popular weapons contemporaneously with the rapier. 

But the rapier guard, whether consisting of bars, or shells, or a cup, 
was very often used with a very broad blade. In such cases the " ricasso "* 
was necessarily much hollowed. Such broad-bladed rapiers were almost 
exclusively used by horsemen until the wars of the rebellion, when they seem 
to have been very suddenly replaced by basket-hilted swords, such as are 
shown in Plate IV. (This remained the type of the cavalry sabre in Eng- 
land until the latter part of the eighteenth century.) 

The back sword, of which so much is heard in connexion with 

Fig. 139.— Back Sword, sixteenth century, showing the 

single-edged blade. 

gladiators' stage fights, had a basket hilt similar to that of the claymore, 
but a very much slenderer blade, deprived of point, like the modern 

A cutting sword of still narrower dimensions, and with a much simpler 
guard, approximating to that of the small sword, was called " Spadroon " 
in England ; it was, in faft, similar to the German cut-and-thrust rapier of 
the eighteenth century, which had been called Spadone or Spadrone since the 
disuse of the regular two-handed swords, in the same way as the claymore 
retained the old name of a very diflferent weapon. The German Spadroon 
was a regular double-edged sword, but any very light back or shearing 
sword was so called in England. Its play was essentially that of our modern 
single-stick, with a free use of the point, and the addition of a few drawing 
cuts with the false edge. 

During the second half of the eighteenth century the Hungarian curved 
blade came into favour, especially for the use of light horse troops, and was 

* See p. 235. 


first adapted to the ancient basket hilt, and then to a much simpler one, 
called the " stirrup " hilt, consisting merely of a cross-bar and a knuckle- 
bow. (The stirrup hilt, adapted to a Spadroon blade, is shown in Figs, r 3 2-6.) 

The d^ger' has been at most times, and in all countries, the natural 
companion of the sword, and for obvious reasons : a reversion to " natural 
fighting," by closing in and wrestling, was always a likely termination to 
a more civilized and scientific combat. Indeed, in modern days, the fa<5t 
that it is necessary to make it a hard and fast rule that the left hand is not 
to be used, and that pummelling, wrestling, or tripping is an unwarrant- 
able way of deciding a contest with the sword, shows how perfeftly 
instinftive these aftions are. 

During the Middle Ages the dagger was brought into action, as a last 
resource, as soon as the combat was thus carried on at such close quarters 
that the sword became useless. It was also employed in personal combats, 
judicial or otherwise, to give the mercy stroke to a wounded adversary, or to 
induce him to beg for his life when held helpless on the ground — hence the 
common name of misericorde formerly given to the dagger by the French. 

Its systematic use in ad:ual fencing resulted from the ancient habit of 

always holding it ready drawn in anticipation of the final tussle, which was 

almost inevitable in early days, when the 

science consisted of much cautious stalking, 

followed by very reckless dashes. 

It is possible that at first the dagger may 
have been held point downwards, thumb near 
or on the pummel, and thus only used for 
stabbing, but the very earliest books treating 
of the sword or rapier invariably represent 
the dagger chiefiy as a defensive weapon, held 
Fig. 140.— The " Mi«ricordc." >" ^^e left hand in very much the same manner 
as the sword was in the right. 
Broadly speaking, there are three typical forms of fencing daggers." 

' Dagger, a word of Keltic origin : dag or dager, a dagger. The words dag, for dagger, 
and daggin, to stab, occur in old Dutch. 

Paignard, poniard, pugnalt, punal, in French and English, Italian and Spanish, are of 
course derived from pugnus, the fist. 

* During the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the sword and dagger worn by 
gentlemen were most usually of a similar pattern. As the typical shape of the latter varied 
but little, this fa£t is important, for, in the absence of any very definite criterion, the style of 
ornamentation and the general charaAer of the blade are of great use in determining ihe date 
of a given dagger by comparison with that of the sword then in fashion. 




N, B, Notice how^ in this group and the following^ the fas iTdne gradually becomes 
stunted and unfit for its original purpose^ as the sword is of later date, 

1. English Rapier y middle seventeenth century. Outside view^ showing straight 

quillonsy knuckle-bow^ and pas d'dne surmounted by shel's. Flamboyant blade. But for the 
quillons, distinSf from knuckle-bow^ this hilt shows all the charaSferistics of that of the 
Small Sword, 

2. Transition Rapier^ middle seventeenth century. Old-fashioned flat^ grooved^ and 

pierced blade of Spanish type^ shortened and adapted to conventional small-sword hilt^ namely^ 
one formed of qui lions and knuckle-bow coalesced^ pas cPane and small shells^ the ricasso being 
overlapped and covered by an extension of the qui lions, [In this specimen the knuckle-bow is 
unfortunately broken,) 
3. Transition Rapier^ with small-sword hilt, ^adrangular long blade of Verdun 

\. CoHchemarde, The hilt^ probably by Liegeber of Nilrnbergy is ornamented with 

small full-length figures, {The ricasso of the blade remains uncovered.) 

5. Small Swordy close of seventeenth century. Triangular blade very wide at base, but 

not of" CoHchemarde '* pattern ^ uniformly tapering towards the point, 

6. Small Sword^ temp, ^een Anne, Slender triangular blade and silver hilt, 

7. Small S wordy temp, ^uen Anne, Round plate ^ instead of the usual double shell, 

and ** CoHchemarde " blade. The pas d'dne being so attenuated, the quillons are kept separate 
from the knuckle-bow in order to support the plate, 
8. Small Sword of same type as No, 6, but with the blade slender throughout, 


9, 10, II. Siher-hilted*' ColichemardeSy' temp, William III, 

12. Small Sword, with tapering blade, inscribed Je vous le sacrifie. Temp,y end of 

Louis XIVs reign, 

13. Small Sword, temp. Louis XV,y with chased hilt. 

14, 15. Small Swords, temp. George II, 

16. Small Sword J temp. George III,, with cut steel hilt. 



-17, Rapier Espada^ early seventeenth century, 

-18. Broadsword [Bilbao^ Montante), early seventeenth century, 

•19. Cavalry Sword [Sable), late eighteenth century, 

-20. Small Sword {Espadin)j late eighteenth century. 




The first is the plain shape — ^which may be called conventional — with a 
double-edged blade, some eight or ten inches long, and a simple cross hilt, 
with or without a side ring. 

The second is a great improvement on the first : the quillons are very 
much curved forward, so as to be capable of engaging the adversary's sword, 
and even stopping a cut. With such a 
weapon it was quite possible, after meeting 
the adverse blade on a parry, to hold it 

Erisoner by a well-timed twist, inside or out, 
>ng enough to allow of a deliberate thrust 
with the sword. The name of " forked " 
dagger may be given to this shape ; it is 
undoubtedly the one best suited for fencing. 
In many of these the side ring is replaced 
by a third qutUon, incurving towards the 
point symmetrically with the other two. 
On the inside of the blade a well-marked 
depression or thumb seat is generally hol- 
lowed out. The blades of such daggers 
are usually double-edged, somewhat thick, 
and varying from eight to twelve inches in 

These two forms were the most com- 
monly employed, as they were praftical for 
general use as well as mere fencing. 

The third form — the Spanish shell 
dagger, the " main gauche " ' of die French — 
which is more elaborate, has been already re- 
ferred to on page 2j6. It combined the ad- 
vantages of the target, or " broquel," and 
the dagger, and was especially convenient with 
very heavy rapiers, but although some of 
them have their blades fashioned so as to be 
able to engage the opponent's sword (see 

Specimens, Plate IV.), they must have been decidedly inferior to the forked 
daggers for that purpose. Shell daggers always have very long straight 
quillons; they were generally used with the long cup-hiltcd rapier of 
the Spanish type. All the peculiarities of blade and hilt observable in the 

Fig. 141. — Spanish Shell Digger 

(main gauche), close of sixteenth ceo- 
lury. From Lacombe'i " Armes et 
Ar mures." 

• The name of "main gauche" i* especially applied to this weapon by many writer*, 
apparently because it would be of little use except as a left-hand dagger for fencing. It ia 
needless Co remark that the name would apply equally well to fencing daggen of any kind. 


sword are reproduced in its companion dagger, as may be seen in the best 

The dagger fell completely into disuse for fencing purposes, even in 
Spain and Italy, soon after the seventeenth century ; in the latter days of its 
existence it was of a very much reduced type, approximating to that of the 
** stiletto," and its guard consisting merely of straight quillons with a small 
ring, the blade as usual reproducing in its slenderness the character of that 
of the sword.^ 

Mention has been made several times in the course of this book of the 
various kinds of foils* used for pradlice, which it may be well to recapi- 
tulate here. 

Until the middle of the seventeenth century, when " fioreti " or 
"fleurets"* were devised, rebated swords were always employed in cut-and- 
thrust rapier pradlice. The flexible fleuret could only be used when the play 
was restrifted to the point. 

Rebated swords* were usually of the same form as the rapier they stood 
for, but had a simpler guard. During the seventeenth and early eighteenth 

* The very vicious-looking and somewhat fantastic so-called ** Sword-breakers," repre- 
sented as usual fencing weapons of the *' main gauche " class by so many writers on Arms and 
Armour, never were at any time but the result of individual fantasy. As fencing implements, 
notwithstanding their elaborateness and forbidding appearance, they are decidedly inferior to 
any ordinary dagger. If they were ever used at all, it was probably in the right hand and alone, 
not in conjunction with the rapier. No mention of them is ever made in old books of fence, 
and their date must be ascribed as anterior to the sixteenth century. 

■ See Introdudlion, p. 7. 

» See pp. 134, 139, 145. 
These rebated swords were formidable implements to pra6lice withal, and from all 
accounts the acquisition of skill in rapier-play must have been purchased at the cost of much 
bruising and the risk of serious accidents. 

Saviolo informs us that gloves of mail were used on both hands, and there is internal 
evidence in many works of the same period that shirts of mail or a breastplate and a kind of 
skull-cap were worn for serious practice, but no protection was devised for the nether limbs. 

^^ I have bruised my shin at rapier and dagger play with a master of fence,^ says Master 
Slender, but all devotees of the fence schools were familiar with such slight drawbacks. 

Lord Sanquire was hanged in the days of James I. for the revengeful murder of an 
^ Alsatian '' master named Turner, who had accidentally put out his eye. 

In the seventeenth century the mail gloves were replaced by buff gauntlets, for rapier- 
play ; and with the sma// sword, long soft leather gloves, similar to those still worn in Italian 
fencing schools, were generally adopted. 

Masks (see p. 151 and note on p. 171) were not universally adopted until quite the end 
of the eighteenth century. The heavy ''stick helmet" used in sabre or stick-play seems to 
have been invented in Germany during the last century. 




■I. Sword f early fourteenth century^ with plain cross hilty stiff double-edged blade and 

disk pummel, 

2. Ancient Gothic two-handed Sword {attributed to fVallace), 

3. Italian Sword, end of fifteenth century, with square f^enetian pummel^ quillons 

horizontally counter-curved^ and long flat blade. 

4. Braquemarj middle sixteenth century, with short broad blade ^ incurved quillons, 

imperfect pas d*dney and broad side ring, 

5. Two Hander^ early sixteenth century, with long blade is'l'^) and extraordinarily 

long quillons. Inscribed Je pense plus. 

6. Elizabethan Rapief^ close of sixteenth century. 

7. Italian Rapier, close of sixteenth century^ with ringed guard and blade of pro- 

digious length {s'S )- 

8. Elizabethan Rapier {blade 4' 2" long). 

9. Rapier with conventional bar hilt, {Blade 5^1" long,) 

10. German Rapier, close of sixteenth century, showing straight quillons ^ with side 

ringy pas d*dne and shells. 

1 1 . Rapier^ first years seventeenth century^ with small hilt, showing an approach to 

the Transition shape. 

12. Italian fiamboy ant Sword. Hilt without pas cTdne, 

13. Venetian Schiavona, with Spanish blade inscribed Vn Dios una Ley y un Rey. 

Date^ about 1570. 

14. Venetian Schiavonay with Spanish blade inscribed Viva el Rey de Espana. 

Date, about 1 580. 

15. Venetian Schiavona in its original sheath. Date about 1580. 

16. Venetian Schiavona. 1590. 

17. Italian basket-hilted Sword, by Andrea Ferrara. 

18. Transition Rapier, early seventeenth century. 

19. Broadsword, temp. Charles I. Blade by Andrea Ferrara. 

20. Long Horseman s Sword {Claymore^, middle seventeenth century. 

21. Rapier or Spadroon without pas d^dne, middle seventeenth century. Blade in- 
scribed Sahagum. 

22. Broadsword, latter part of seventeenth century, by Abraham Stamm, Solingeh. 

23. Colichemarde with silver hilt, temp. Charles II. 

24. Small Sword, temp. George I. 




1 1 





2 1 










THE FOIL, 247 

centuries foil blades were likewise mounted in sword hilts of the usual form, 
except in the case of the conventional French fleuret/ Angelo's ** Ecole des 
Armcs " shows the foil with a small cup hilt, but without pas d'ane. It 
was in the last years of the eighteenth century that the French " lunette " 
guard was devised. This so-called lunette, which may be looked upon as the 
outline of double-shell, was adopted as being the lightest guard possible. 

PraAice with cutlass, Dusack, or falchion was carried on with broad 
^curved wooden lathes, provided at one end with a hole for the insertion of 
the hand,' similar in faA to the lower specimen of Dusack represented on 
p. 77. In England the " waster " — which seems to have been a dummy 
sword, either with a rounded blade, or one transversely set, so that only the 
flat could be used — ^was the " foil " of the back sword during the sixteenth 
century. Later on, during the early part of the next, wasters are described 
as cudgels inserted in sword guards. 

When the basket hilt came into general use in this country, about the 
second quarter of the seventeenth century, the cudgel was employed with 
such a hilt, or sometimes with a wicker-work basket similar to that of the 
inferior kind of modern single-stick.' Later on the basket hilt was universally 

Nowadays the small sword is represented in England by the Court 
sword, and in France by the " epee dc combat ; " both have preserved the light 
triangular . blade, but the shells of the latter (the doubk-shell guard is, 
perhaps, the most common) have resumed larger dimensions since the total 
abandonment by the French of the pas d'ane, which formerly held them 
slightly in advance of the guard, and consequently allowed smaller ones to 
be as eflTeftive. 

The Italians have preserved the rapier form, with cup, pas d'ane, and 
quillons, but with a slender quadrangular blade. 

Out of France and Italy the duelling sword is but little used ; in the 

' See p. 139. 

' A mail gauntlet was a necessity with such a rough implement, all but devoid of any 
protection for the hand. 

' The word single-stick bears the same relation to the staff, or two-handed stick, as the 
back sword did to the " long sword " or ** two-hander." 

The single-stick or the cudgel was, and is, the foil of the back sword, and the staff 
replaced the long sword in fencing practice. The French use to this day a wooden sword for 
sabre pradlice, very similar to the foil of the sixteenth century Diisack. 


tatter country even, and in Germany, the Spadroon is the most favourite 

In conclusion, it may be remarked — and the wiser portion of the com- 
munity will probably do so with satisfedion — that duelling of any kind, 
which in England is a thing of the past, on the Continent is every- 
where on the wane, and that the days seem not so very distant when the 
" Noble Science of Defence," however assiduously pursued in sport, will 
never need to be put to the test in earnest except on military duty. 


BARCA (F. A. deE. y),iiiii, 

i '73- 

I Acad^mie d'Armet, 144, [71. 

coat granted to, 1 46, 1 7 1 . 

Adarga, Z36. 

Agocchie (G. dell'), xxv, 61. 
Agrippa, C, xxv, ixvi, 45. 
Alfieri (F.), zzviii, zxjx, xzz, 131. 
Anelace, 54, 119, Plate IV. 
Angclo (D. T. M.), xlix, 112, 

(H.), 1, li, li^aij. 

Anonymous works on Fencing — 

Album of copperplate I representing atti- 
tudes in fencing, xlviii. 
A nti- Pugilism, &c., 1. 
De la deitreza de lai Armas, MS., ix. • 
FecKtkunst die Riuerlich, mcnnliche 
Kunst und Handarbeit Fechiens und 
Kemp fens, ixxIL 
Fliichtige Bemerkungen uberdievenchie- 

dene Art zu Fechien, kc, xxivii. 
La noble science des joucurs d'espfe, 

Librodel Exercicio de lasarmas,MS., xx. 
Mars His Feild, or the Exercise of 

Arnies, &c., xliv. 
Pallas Armata : the gentleman's armorie, 

&c., xlv. 
Quesiti del Cavaliere instrutto nel arte 

della Scherma, xxix. 
Sech) Fechtschulen der Marzbruder und 
Federfechtcr aua den Jahren 1573 
bis 1614, Sec., sxxii. 
Sword Exercise for Cavalry, li. 
The names of ye Poshes, Sec, MS., xlv. 
Antonio de Lucha, 37. 
Appels (attacks), loi, 155, 167. 

Artists, 191, 197. 
Assaults (regulations), 1 59. 
Austrian broadsword-play, zzo. 
Ayala (A. de), xx. 

Back sword, iS;, 208. 
Backswording, 209. 
Badge of MarxbrUder, 29. 

of Federfechter, 30, 

of Scottish Sword-men, 199. 

Basket hilt, 240. 

Battery and beating, 192, 
Baiier (or Battier), zliii. 
Beaupr^ (J. J. de), i»vi, 184. 
Becca cesa, 43. 

possa, 41. 

Besnard (C), il, 137. 

Blackwell (HO, xlvi, xlviii, 207. 
Blades (variety of), 135. 
Blunts and sharps, 198. 
Bolognese schools, 33. 
Bo rath, xxxv. 
Botta, 37. 

— lunga, II J. 

Botte couple, 144. 

secrite, 5, 55- 

Braquemar, 54, 129, Plate VI. 
Breen (A. van), xxxix. 
Bremond (P. A.), zxii. 
Broadsword, 240. 

" Broken" head, xio. 
Broqucl or brochiero, 44, 236. 
Bruchius (J. G.), xxxv. 
Brussels Academy, 147. 
Brye (de), ili, 1 56. 
Buck (T.), 103, 204. 



Buckler, i6, 17, 18, 20, 28, 44, 119. 
Burton (Capt. R.)) S. 

C. (Sr.), XXXV. 

Caize, 53. 

Cala (C. de), xxi. 

Calarone (C.)y xxx. 

Capo Fcrro (R.), xxvii, 107. 

Carmona (L. Mendez de), xxi. 

Carranza (J. S.) xix, xx, 6j^ 172. 

Carr^ (N.), 120. 

Carvalho (R. de), xxiv. 

Case of rapiers, 51, 256. 

Cassani (G. A.), xxvi. 

Cavalcabo (C), 122. 

(H.), xxxiiif xxxix, 106. 

(Z.), xxvi, 66. 

Cavatione or cavazione, 10 1. 
Centre of percussion, 49. 
Cercle, 141. 

les ongles en dessus, en dessous, 1 56. 

parade de, 167. 

mysterieux, 123. 

Ceresa (T.), xxviii. 
Chapman (G.), 8. 
Cinghiara porta di ferro, 38. 
Circular parries, 11, 142, 154. 
Claymore, 228. 

Cloak and sword, 51, 119, 132. 
Coda lunga e stretta, 38. 

e aha, 39. 

e distesa, 40. 

e larga, 41. 

" Colichemarde," 239. 
Commanding the sword, 194. 
Compases, 70. 
Contracavatione, 101. 
Contraguardia, 106. 
Contrapostura, 98. 

Contra tempo, ill. 

CoDtrcprinse (disarming), 60'. 

Con t res, 144. 

Contretemps, 193. 

Corporation of Maisters of Defence, 18, 188. 

des Matires en fait d'Armes, 146, 171. 

ofFencingMa8tcrsinSpain,3i, 133, 173, 

Coudray (J. B. le Perche du), xl, 1 36. 
Coul^ (glizade), 167. 
Counter-caveating, 193. 
Counter-guards (of sword), 230. 
Countering, 36, 57, 77. 

Coup6, 144, 167. 

Coustil a croc, 228. 
"Crosse blowes," 81. 
Cross hilt, 230. 
Crossing, 91. 
Cuchillo, 174. 
Cudgels, 209. 
Cup hilt, 236. 
Cutlass, 188, 229. 
Cuts (classification), 36. 

Dagger alone, 174. 
Daggers (fencing), 245. 
Danet, G., xlii, xliv, 160. 
Delforce (J.), 204. 
D-marches, 57. 
Demeuse (N.), xliii, xliv. 
Demi-contre, 168. 
Destreza, 93, 121, 173. 
Development, 113, 140. 
Disarming, 154, 155. 
Distance, 8. 

Docciolini (M.), xxvi, 96. 
Doyle (A.), xxxvi, 1 84. 
"Dui tempi," 99, 138. 
Dusack, 75, j-j, 229. 

Ecole des Armes, 160, 217. 

Royale d'Armes, 170. 

Einsidell (C. von), xxxiii, 180. 
Enclosing, 194. 
Encyclopedic, 160, 217. 
Engagement, 10. 

Eon (d'), 171, 217. 
Estoc, 22, 57, 228. 
Estocada, 72. 
Estocade, 53. 

de passe, de pied ferme, 140. 

Ettenhard (F. A.), xxii. 

Fabris (S.), xxvi, xxviii, xxxv. 
Falchion, 229, 243. 
Fallopia (A.), xxvi. 
Falsifying, 192. 
Fcder, 30, 180. 
Federfechter, 30. 
Feints, 11, loi. 
Fendente, 131. 
Ferron (J.), 120. 
Fianconata, 107. 

^ig> 204* 206. 
Fighting guilds, 14. 
Filo (falso o dritto), 35. 



Finger loop, 232. 
Firmc (M. M.), xxiv. 
Flail, 15. 
Flaman (le), 120. 
Flamberg, 192, 228, 237. 
Flanconnade, 137, 194. 
Foil-play, 7. 
Foils, 139, 144. 

(Italian), 179. 

Freville (de), xliii, xliv. 

Gaiani (G. B.), xxvii, 131. 

Gallici (M.), 133. 

Ganancia, 72. 

Garcia (F. F.), xix. 

Garzonius, xxxiii, 180. 

German play (Angelo), 184. 

Giganti (N.), xxvii, xxxiii, xxxix, 107. 

Girard, xli, 1 56. 

Gladiators, 16, 187. 

Godfrey (Capt. J.), xlviii, 204. 

Gordine (G.), xlii, 159. 

Gorman, 203. 

Grados al perfil, 68. 

Grassi (G. di), xxv, xliv, 49. 

Gray (G.), 202. 

Grisetti e Rosaroll, xxxi, 177. 

Guadagnare di spada, 72. 

Guard (definition), 109. 

(Spanish), 69, 175. 

For special guard, see under various 


of sword, 230. 

Gunterrodt (A.), xxxii. 

Half-circle, 138, 140. 

Half-hangers, 220. 

Hamlet (fencing scene), 3. 

Hanger, 229. 

Hangetort, 76. 

Harris (J.), 202. 

Haspelmacher, xxxvii. 

Hesgate (T.), 202. 

Heussler (S.), xxxiii, xxxiv, 180. 

Hiebcoment, 185. 

Hoffman, xxxvii. 

Hope (Sir W.), xlv, xlvi, xlvii, 190. 

Hundt (M.), xxxii, 180. 

Hutton (Capt. A.), 8. 

Hynitzchen (J.), xxxv, 183. 


Ignorants," 191. 

Imbracciatura, 44. 
Imbroccata, 83. 
Incartata, 84. 
Inquarto, 178. 
"Instances," 125. 
Intagliata, 178. 
Intrecciata, 136. 
Italian art of fencing, 1 79. 

foil, 179. 

guard (Angelo), 179. 

Jarnac (coup de), 53. 
Jena, 183. 
Jeronimo, 24. 
Johnson (Mr.), 204. 

Kahn (A. F.), xxxvi, xxxvii, 182. 
Keys (Dr.), 2 1 5. 
Knuckle-bow, 230, 233. 
Konigsmark, 239. 
Koppen, xxxiii, 1 80. 
Kreussler (W.), 182, 

(G.), 183. 

(H.), 183. 

Labat, xli, xlviii, 152. 
La Boessi^re, xliii, 164, 169. 
Landsknecht's sword, 78, 229. 
Lange (J. D.), xxxiv, 181. 
Lanistse, 31. 
Lara (A. de), xxii. 
La Tousche, xl, 141. 
Lebkommer (H.), xxxii, 74. 
Left hand (use of), 83, 114, 195. 

arm as counterpoise, 108. 

Le Perche, xl, 136, 141. 
Liancour (de), xl, 143. 

Linea perfetta e retta, 1 3 3. 

Lineas infinitas, de contingencia, 69. 

Lines, 9. 

Long sword, 18, 228. 

Lonnergan (A ), xlix, 218. 

Lovino (G. A.), xxvii, xxviii. 

Luis (T.), xxii. 

Luxbriider, 31. 

Machrie (W.), 197. 
Mahon (A.), xlviii, 207. 
Maindrai6l, 57. 
Maistres en fait d'armes, 147. 
Malchus, 228. 
Manciolino (A.), xxiv, 34. 



Mandaboloy 135. 

Mandoble, 71. 

Mandritti, 36, 81. 

Mangano (G. A. del), xxzi. 

Marcelli (F. A.\ xxx, 135. 

Marco (A. di), xxx, xxxi. 

Marozzo (A.), xxiv, xxv, xxvii, 35, 44, 

Martin, xlii, 156. 

Marxbriider, 20. 

Masks, 159, 169, 246. 

Mathews, 189. 

Mattel (F. A.), xxix. 

Mazo (B. di), xxx. 

McArthur (J.), 1, 219. 

McBane (D.), xlvii, 204. 

McTurk (W.), 212. 

Measure, 8. 

Medio reves, medio tajo, 72. 

Mendoza (L. P. de), xxi. 

Menessiez, 161. 

Meyer (J.), xxxii, xxxiv, 75-77. 

Mezza cavazione, 10 1. 

Mezzo cerchio, 178. 

dritto, 130. 

tempo, 96. 

Michelangelo, 45. 
Micheli (M.), xxxi. 

Millar or Miller (J.), xlviii, 203, 207. 
Misericorde, 244. 
Misura larga, 99, 107. 

stretta, 99, 107. 

Moman, xxxiv. 
Moncio (P.)i xxiv. 
Monica (F.), xxx. 
Montante, 135, Plate IV. 
Morentin (A. A. y), xxiii. 
Motet, 217. 
Mysterious circle, 123. 
Mur (tirer au), 166. 

Narvaez (Don L. P. de), xz, xxi, xxii, 69, 

73. 172. 
Niccoli (H.), xlv. 

Novcli (N. R.), xxiii. 

Numerical nomenclature, 10, 161. 

Oath, in Italian schools, 44. 

in Spanish schools, 32. 

Oberhut, 74. 

Ochs, 'J 6. 
Oftave, 138. 
Olivier, xlix, 2 1 8. 

Opposition, 11. 

of the hand, 148, 150, 152. 

O'Sullivan, xlii, 160. 

Pagano (M. A.), xxv. 
Palladini (C), xxvi. 
Pallavicini (G. M.), xxix, 133. 
Paradoxes of Defence, 22. 
Parkes (of Coventry), 202, 205. 
Parries (eight natural), 10. 

in rapier-play, 112. 

Paschen (J. G.), xxxiv, xxzv, 181. 
Pas d'Ine, 231. 

Passata, 84. 

Passes, 1 12, 168. 

Passing, 48, 61, 70. 

Passot (^p^e de), 229. 

Patenostrier, xxxix, 105. 

Pater, 136. 

Paz (S. de la), xxiii. 

Pembroke (Lord), 217. 

Peralta (M. C. y.), xxiii. 

Perinat (J. N.), xxiv, 175. 

Pepys's account of a stage-light, 189. 

Peso, 132. 

Petit Jean, 120. 

Pflug, 76. 

Pistofilo (B.), xxviii. 

Pizarro (J. F.), xx. 

"Plain thrust," 199. 

Plastrons, 134. 

Pompce, 53. 

Pona (or Pons) (J.), xix. 

Porres (G. A. de), xxi. 

Porta di ferro, 39. 

Position of hand, 9, 165. 

Postura, 98. 

Prime, 137, 157. 

Prinse (seizing), 59. 

Prize-fight, 188. 

Prizes, 18, 188. 

Pronation, 10. 

Punta dritta, riversa o rovescia, 64, 84. 

Punta sopramano, 66, 

Quarte or carte, 11, 137. 
Quarte couple, 144. 
Quarter-staff*, 247. 
Quarting, 193. 
guatriangle, 57. 
^uillons, 231. 
Quinte, 10, 140, 156. 



Quintino (A.), xxvii. 

{^uixada (M. P. de M. y), xzii. 

Rada (L. de), zxiii. 
Ranis (H. C), xxxvii. 
Rapier, 5, 21, 234. 
Rebated swords, 7, 134, 246. 
Redas, 217. 
Ren vers, 57. 
Reprise, 138. 
Reverence, 139. 
Rcves, 72. 
Ricasso, 236. 
Ricavazione, 10 1, 136. 
Riposte, 138, 141. 
Rocco, 23. 

Rocheford (Mons. J. de), account of stage- 
fight, 189. 
Roger le Skirmizour, 17. 
Roman (F.), xix. 
Rosaroll e Grisetti, xxxi, 177. 
Rotella, 44, 119. 
Rousseau (A.), 171. 
Roux (H.)» xxxvii. 

(J. A. K.), xxxviii. 

Rover si, 36. 
Rovescio, 64, 1 30. 
Rowlandson, li, 219. 
Roworth, li, 219. 

Sain£t'-Didier (H. de), xxxviii, 56. 

Saint-Martin (J. de), xxxviii, 171. 


Salute, 139, 230. 

Salvator (S.), xxxiv. 

Saviolo (Vincent), xliv, 26, 79. 

Saxe (Marshal), 171. 

Sbasso, 104, 178. 

Scannatura, 115. 

Schlaeger-play, 185. 

Schmidt, xxxvi, xxxvii. 

(J. A.), XXXV, xxxvi, xxxvii, 184. 

Schoffer (H. W.), xxxiii, 180. 
Schranckhut, 76. 

Schwerdt, 15, 76, 77, 181, 228. 

Scots' play, 191. 

Seconde, 10. 

tierce en seconde et quarte en seconde. 


Septime, 10, 138, 1 41. 
Shearing sword, 187. 
Shell hit, shell dagger, 230. 
Sherlock (Mr.), 205. 
Side-ring, 231. 
Silva (G. de), xix. 
Silver (G.), xliv, 22. 
Silvie, 53. 
Sinclair (Capt.), 11. 
Single-sticks, 209, 247. 
Sixte, 10, 138. 
Slip, slipping, 192. 
Small sword, 239. 
Small-sword play, 6, 149. 
Sosa (M.), xxiv. 
Spadone, y6^ zi%. 
Spadroon, 207, 243, 247. 
German, 184. 

guard, 219. 

Spanish fight,'' 92. 

Angelo's description of, 175. 

pour le dessus, pour le dessous, 141. 

Senese (or Senesio) (A.), xxix, 132. 
Sentiment du fer, 1 27. 

Staff, 247. 
Stage-iight, 188, 201. 

Steele's account of, 203. 

Steccata, 226. 

" Stesso tempo," 99, 138, 176. 
St. George (Chevalier de), 171. 
St. George's guard, 220. 
St. Michel (Confrerie de), 148. 
Stoccata, 84. 

lunga, 113. 

Stock or stuck, 22. 

" Stoss und Hieb," 1 80. 
Stramazone, 41. 
Stramazoncello, 135. 
Strasburg (Academie de), 147. 
Striccio, 136. 
Students' duels, 181, 185. 
Supination, 10. 
Sutor (J.), xxxii, 77. 
Sutton, 204. 
Swashbuckler, 19. 
Swetnam (J.), xlv. 
Sword, 19. 

dancers, 15. 

old and modern, 225. 

and buckler, 16, 20, 28, 48, 119. 

Sword-men, 16. 

Swordsmen (Society of Scottish), 199. 
Sylva (D. R. de), xxiii. 

Tajo, 72. 


Tippe de MiIrd, loj. 

Target (hand buckler), 18, 2ft, 38. 

(pMaice ai), 36, 75. 

Tiylor OO. IH- 
Teiltagory, 171, 11 1. 
Temlich, ziivii. 
Tempo indivisibile, 131. 
Terrcweit (J.), zoj. 
Thibauld, xixiv. 
Tbibiust (G.), mix, zl, 121. 
Thumb-ring, 234, 
Tierce, 10, 137, 141, 
Time, 8, 84, 100, 107. 
Tobar (M. dc), iii. 
Tocchi di spadg, 49. 
Torelli, xiviii, 
Torquato (E.), zxvii, 130. 
Torre (P. de la), xijt. 
Toulouse Academy, 147. 
Trantiiion peric»d, 227, 

rapier, 238. 

Triangle, 57, 
Triangular blades, 138. 
Triegler (J, G.), ixxiv, 138. 
Trovarc di spada, 103. 

Under<ouDter, 194. 
Underwood (J.), 1. 
Universal parriei, 5, 6$, ii(), 167. 
(Gcraun), 181. 

Vade-Mecum 'Swordsman's), lo;. 

Valdin (Mon».), xlviii, 107. 

Verdun, 235. 

Verolinus (T.), xiiv, 181. 

Vesier, ziivii. 

Viedma (D. de), xii. 

Vigeant (Mons.), Bibliography, ivii. 

Viggiani (Viiani) (A.), iiv, xxvi, 61. 

Villardita (G.), xxix. 

Volt-coupe, 194. 

Volte, 104, 154, 168. 

Waster, 109, 247. 
Weischncr (S. C. P.), xxivii. 
West Smithfield, 20. 
Weatwicke, 189. 
Wyldc (Z.), xlvi, 207. 

Vorke (Rowland), 21, 108. 

Zeter (J.), xxxii, 180. 
Zwcyhander, 76, 228.